Business Owners: Free holiday parking is good for business…but could be tweaked

Local News

State College, Pa- The annual holiday parking program was approved by State College Borough.

The program’s goal is to drive more business downtown with free parking from late November to the end of the year. The program applies to parking garages and on-street parking.

Business owners feel it does give customers more incentive to shop downtown… but it also gives what some call “freeloaders” the opportunity to take advantage of the system.

“One of the drawbacks I see is, what are they going to do about the people who come in, park for free… and just stay there,” said Tom Gallagher, owner of Music Mart.

Gallagher is concerned because under the current holiday parking program, especially close to Christmastime, people who work or live downtown could take spots in front of his store.

Spots that could be free for paying customers.

And Gallagher knows what it’s like to have occupied parking spaces without business.

“Over the past couple of months when they were doing construction out in front of the store here…. they had all the parking spaces across the street blocked off for construction vehicles, so we had no parking out in front of the store,” Gallagher said this hurt foot traffic.

He likes the intent of the program, but feels some tweaks can be made.

He said, “I’m in favor of what they’re trying to do too, as far as free parking, I think that’s great…but being able to police that so that people aren’t there for 8 hours, 10 hours, you know…”

Here are the full details on the current program:

Free parking downtown is available in parking garages from November 26 to January 1.

For on-street parking, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 16, and Dec. 26 to Jan 1, traffic police will issue up to two courtesy cards for each vehicle, instead of a ticket for an expired meter. If you have an expired meter beyond these two courtesy cards, you will get a ticket.

Meters will not be checked at all from Dec. 17 to Dec. 25.

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