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Downtown Carbondale employees support free parking idea

CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Businesses along the Carbondale strip speak out about the possibility of parking in downtown being free. 

Earlier this week, News 3 reported the city council is considering a trial run to make that happen. 

Currently if you want to go to downtown Carbondale for dinner, a drink or shopping, you have to pay the meter. 

Last August, a resident submitted a petition to the council asking members to provide free employee parking passes to downtown employees.

That petition is now gaining even more traction. 

City leaders said during a council meeting Tuesday night, they are considering trying it for everyone. 

Hannah Peterson is used to paying to park for work. 

Peterson has worked at Cristaudo’s on the strip in Carbondale for two years. 

She said sometimes she goes out to the parking lot multiple times a shift to pay the meter. 

"Knowing that you have to put multiple dollars in a meter per day for your shift, kind of sucks," Peterson said. "I definitely put at least five dollars in a day and that’s when I hope I don’t get a ticket."

Peterson was one of the more than 450 people that signed the petition in the fall. 

"It gets frustrating at times, especially if we are in a rush like lunch or something and someone comes in warning us the city just pulled in and to make sure you have money in your meter," Peterson said. 

Peterson said most of the jobs on the strip only offer to pay minimum wage. 

Council members are worried about making the parking free because of the bottom line. 

"We do get substantial funding by charging for parking," Councilperson Adam Loos said. 

According to city documents, Carbondale estimates in fiscal year 2020, they would bring in $173,500 in ticket, permit and meter revenue. 

Maintaining the meters is estimated to cost $106,000. 

Netting the city $67,500. 

Those documents said there are 1,259 total metered spaces located in downtown.

"Somebody pays for it still so the money still has to come from somewhere," Councilperson Navreet Kang said. 

Peterson said it’s normal for customers to complain about the parking. 

"Some people come in here just picking up a birthday cake and then they run in here and by the time they go back out to their car, they have a ticket," Peterson said. 

She said she hopes the city moves forward on this test run.

"I think it would be beneficial for everyone," Peterson said. 

The council did not vote on the issue Tuesday night, but hope to during one of their meetings in May. 

Council members are discussing running the trial for six months to a year and then after that period is over, the meters would kick back in. 

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