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Topekans react to possible reinstatement of downtown parking fees

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 12:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Since 2017, the City of Topeka has allowed free parking in the 100 blocks off Kansas Avenue between 6th and 10th streets -- that could change Tuesday night.

That could change Tuesday night with the City Council voting whether to impose two-hour metered parking to assist the city’s budget. Currently, they project a $1.3 million deficit in the 2022 budget. Having people pay to park downtown would only close the gap by about $100,000.

Katie Turner, General Manager of Celtic Fox, said the free parking has helped immensely.

“People can come, have lunch, not worry about how long they talked to get out there and plug a meter,” she said.

We reached out to the Greater Topeka Partnership and Downtown Topeka Incorporated but they did not want to speak on this until after the City Council vote.

Turner said there need to be alternative options for people to park freely to continue exploring downtown Topeka.

“Allowing businesses maybe to have parking passes for the garages or something along those lines that would allow us to offset the cons, but I haven’t heard anything about that,” she said.

Jennifer Gibeson was enjoying a meal on Celtic Fox’s patio when we asked her what she thought.

“I think it’s better off leaving it as it is. I appreciate what downtown Topeka is trying to do and have a more lively downtown but I think until then until there’s more for the community, I think leaving it the way it is is sufficient,” she said.”

Turner said this would turn more people away after a year and a half of struggling to get those people inside.

“All of our businesses have been suffering with the pandemic and getting people downtown, the lack of workers downtown,” said Turner. “So to do something that is going to make it more difficult for people to enjoy the time I think is bad for everybody.”

We’ve asked the city when the pay-for-parking would start if approved and are awaiting their response.

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Since 2017, the City of Topeka has allowed free parking in the 100 blocks off Kansas Avenue between 6th and 10th streets -- that could change Tuesday night.

Currently, they project a $1.3 million deficit in the 2022 budget. The City Council will vote on the matter Tuesday night to remove the parking meter hoods and reinstate paying to park on those streets.

The estimated revenue increase per year is $100,000 dollars.

On September 14, 2021, the Public Infrastructure Committee voted to recommend resuming charging for those parking spaces through 2-hour metered parking by a vote of 3-0. The committee is comprised of Council Members Neil Dobler, Tony Emerson, and Mike Lesser.

The source of the funding is from the City’s Parking Fund.

The council needs 6 votes to approve.

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