June 13, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
The good news for motorists in downtown Hartford: Soon it will be less expensive to park in metered spaces and in two of three city-owned garages.
The bad news: Park too long at a meter, and the ticket will cost you 67 percent more.
The city council on Monday night approved the changes hoping that the lower rates will attract more people downtown.
Rates at the Church Street and MAT garages will fall as much as 57 percent beginning July 1. Phased in during July will be a drop in meter rates, from the current $1.50 an hour to $1.
"It will no longer be prohibitive to come and enjoy downtown," said James Kopencey, the executive director of the city's parking authority. "This is the beginning of a recognition that parking plays a major roll in economic development."
The rates at the city's Morgan Street garage are already competitive, Kopencey said.
The city's parking authority proposed changing the rates during the city's recent budget process. It gave two main reasons: Hartford's parking rates are among the most expensive in the nation; lowering them could help stimulate the downtown economy.
While rates at meters will go down, penalties for parking violations on the street will go up. The cost of a ticket at a metered space will rise from $15 to $25 - a jump of 67 percent.
The reason, according to parking officials, is to stop abuse of a loophole in the parking authority's old rates.
Motorists could reduce a $15 ticket to $10 by paying in cash, in person within 72 hours. The authority discovered a pattern of people parking at metered spots, not putting any money into the meter, and simply paying the $10 ticket as the least expensive parking in town, officials said.
The higher penalty is intended to act as an economic incentive to follow the city's parking laws, officials said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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