Main Street Ellicott City parking meters have been a source of discontent for many merchants and customers for years now. There is not full agreement as to whether or not Main Street parking should be metered. However, I have found no one who thinks the CURRENT meters should remain.
Whether or not metered parking in general hurts business is up for debate, but I can assure you that meters which are inoperable, or give out false tickets, absolutely hurt business. Imagine if you get a ticket on Main Street (especially if you aren’t a local) and it’s your own fault. You may grumble a bit, but in the long run you’ll come back, because you know it was your mistake. If, however, you come to Main Street and either get a ticket while you are searching for an operable meter, or even worse, you pay the meter and come back within the time noted, and have a ticket, you may very well avoid Main Street altogether. These are not rare occurrences. The current meter system is NOT working, hasn’t for years, and there really is NO question that it should be removed.
The question remains as to whether it should be replaced with a system that works, or by limiting street parking to a two-hour maximum. Personally, I come down on the side of no meters. The two-hour maximum will lessen non-customer parking, because it’s harder to move your car every two hours than to simply add money to the meter where you are parked. Others might feel that meters cause faster turnover, but I believe that the risk of getting a ticket for not moving your car after two hours is more than enough incentive to ensure adequate turnover. Also, with our current budget deficit, limiting parking to two hours is the cheapest and easiest way to implement a change. The one thing I am sure we can all agree on is that given our current inoperable, non-receipted, erroneous ticket-giving meters, change MUST happen.
I firmly believe that a parking garage is going to be built down the road, as Main Street is a vibrant and entertaining place that hopefully will become even more so in the future. A parking garage is simply an infrastructure necessity. Here’s hoping though that the charm, historic beauty, eclectic shops, and old town feel remain.