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'There's still more room to compromise': Lexington parking agency faces questions about price hike

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

The executive director of LexPark defended the agency's recent controversial increase in parking prices and expansion of enforcement hours during an Urban County Council meeting Tuesday, but the presentation left many city leaders and members of the public far from satisfied.

LexPark's Gary Means laid out a number of reasons the agency went forward with the changes, with costs being the key driver.

"UK-LFUCG land swap, it was an impact. State sales tax, an impact. Security costs going up, impact. Inflation, we all deal with it, but nevertheless it is an impact and all construction going forward is going to cost more because of that," Means rolled off the list of contributing factors.

Means said the improvements to local parking garages come at a price and the agency wasn't immune to the effects of pandemic either as revenues took a dive.

The price hike and expanded enforcement were planned to take effect earlier but were put on pause, another factor that led the agency to believe it needed to take action in early January.

But downtown business owners, workers, and frequent visitors cried foul — pointing to a lack of public input, the effect on pandemic-weary businesses, and dramatic changes that seemed from their point of view to materialize overnight.

Questions about other options were also on the minds of council members, who quizzed LexPark about ways to roll back or ease the impact on downtown.

"I appreciate the compromises that have already been made, but I think that there's still more room to compromise," said Councilwoman Jennifer Reynolds.

But for now, it's a decision that remains in the hands of LexPark, which is an independent agency over which the council has no oversight authority.

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.