To the Editor:
As downtown business owners, we have concerns regarding Carbondale City Council’s decision to end the six-month free parking program. Additionally, we were disappointed that a vote was taken without further public input and would like an opportunity to review the data and share our positive experiences.
We understand the city collected information suggesting the anticipated economic impact wasn't achieved, however, the 2% food and beverage tax was reportedly one of the figures used in calculations. If that is true, we question its value when the tax for October, November and December is due Jan. 20. Additionally, we heard repeatedly from customers that free parking was a welcome perk, particularly in light of that add-on tax.
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This program grew out of a concern that downtown employees were disadvantaged by having to buy a $25 monthly pass, pay meters daily, or face an accumulation of $7 tickets, fines, boots and towing. As a small business we are proud of what we contribute to the local economy, but the cost of passes is an expense that is beyond our reach.
We invite the City Council to work with us and other interested parties to create possible solutions to a matter that is important to us all; creating a vibrant downtown that will attract visitors from around the area. Free parking (minimally for downtown employees), which is offered by other regional towns and cities, is one way to welcome everyone to enjoy what Carbondale has to offer in its city center.
Rachel Cristaudo, Leah Maciell, Jennifer Rollinson and Nicholas Stewart