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Will higher parking meter costs discourage downtown visitors? Businesses hope not

Downtown Lexington, Kentucky on March 2, 2022
Josh James
Downtown Lexington, Kentucky on March 2, 2022

Some downtown Lexington business owners worry higher parking rates set to take effect next year could cause more customers to steer away from downtown.

Beginning January 3rd, the Lexington Parking Authority will be raising parking meter costs by 25 to 50 cents an hour, depending on the area. The meters will be in effect longer as well – going from 8 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday to 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday.

While one reason behind the hike is a new sales tax requirement mandated by the state, LexPark hopes, with a maximum stay of two hours, the increases could potentially drive up the number of visitors who use the spots. Frank and Dino’s general manager Michael Vaccarezza told WKYT he’s skeptical.

“We do have people that, with the turnover, want to get out so they don’t have to pay more parking. So they say that it could increase business, but in reality, it’s not going to change anything," Vaccarezza said.

Instead, some downtown business owners fear the rate jump will be just another hurdle for customers and workers alike. Asked about the issue, Mayor Linda Gorton sounded sympathetic to the downtown businesses.

"They have some very legitimate concerns," Gorton said. "I know that that the Parking Authority has looked at what other cities do, and so I would hope they would revisit maybe some parts of it that may be able to be changed back, because it really impacts quite honestly the business community the most."

Gorton says she’s recommending businesses take those concerns to the director and board chair of LexPark.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.