There’s continuing conversations about downtown Rome parking with updates below and more due later today.
One update involves a parking committee meeting held Monday evening simultaneously to the City Commission meeting. In addition to city staff and Downtown Development members, one person from the community showed up. Hometown Headlines was not aware of the meeting.
From the downtown Rome Facebook page:
“Graduation Parking: 2019 graduation parking will remain the same as in previous years. There will be FREE parking in the Fourth and Sixth Avenue decks. The Third Avenue deck will have special event parking for $5. Parking staff and police will be on site assisting in traffic control, as needed.
“As usual, the Roman Chariot, our FREE shuttle, will run from 5 until 11 p.m. on Friday and from noon until 11 p.m. on Saturday. Please call 706-413-2522 for pick up.
“We encourage you to plan ahead. Any additional information needed, please the contact the Office of Downtown Development at 706-236-4520.”
Fact check on the downtown Rome post: There is a substantial change from previous years. Parking enforcement has expanded from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Impact:
- Consider the 7 p.m. Model High graduation on Friday, May 24, or the 6 p.m. Armuchee High graduation on Saturday, May 25.
- Family or friends arriving for dinner before either event likely would arrive at 5:30 or 4:30 p.m. They’d park in downtown.
- With ceremonies starting at 7 p.m., the Friday night customers would be in violation at 7:30 p.m. The Saturday customers, 6:30 p.m.
- In Armuchee’s case on Saturday night, it is doubtful a family could park and be in their seats in time for the 6 p.m. service and then clear the Forum River Center in time to avoid a violation.
From Patrick Eidson, assistant city manager, in a response to the downtown parking updates:
” … We do plan today to respond via social media regarding downtown parking and specifically graduation. We are not doing anything different with respect to graduation. In fact, this is not new, it is how we have handled graduation parking in the past. Furthermore, the two-hour limit for parking has ALWAYS been in place. This has NEVER changed. We will have FREE parking in the Fourth and Sixth Avenue decks and in the Third Avenue deck we will have special event parking, as we have always had, for $5. Staffing will be in place at the Third Avenue deck as well.
“Also, using our new LPR (license plate reader) technology, we will be able to have NEW data with respect to how many people are coming to a special event downtown.
“We continue to remain committed to a slow roll out process and continual public education as we implement changes. “
City Commissioner Jamie Doss from Monday’s City Commission meeting:
Doss informed the commission about the “new enforcement time” starting May 20. The goal, says Doss, is “encouraging peple to come downtown to shop, visit.” He added that the “new parking plan” will present a “learning curve” for all. Doss also said improvements and repairs have been made to the parking decks. Doss wants to bring city parking staff to a future commission caucus for more discussion on downtown parking matters.
A Monday evening post on the downtown Rome Facebook page has ripped open the wounds from the initial push by the city of Rome to update parking policies. At issue: The “new enforcement time” posting states the 8 a.m.-8 p.m. two-hour limit each Monday through Saturday takes effect on Monday, May 20 — days before thousands are due for graduations staged by Rome, Armuchee, Coosa, Model and Pepperell high schools (see schedule below).
The social media post comes with this original message:
“These changes will go into effect on Monday, May 20th. For questions, please contact the Office of Downtown Development at 706-236-4520 Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.”
The response on Facebook through 10:20 this morning: 216 comments (few supportive) and 317 shares — and counting. Another 55 “emotion” icons accompany the post as well. In addition to overall disgust with the planned downtown parking changes, writers protest the overall timing with four graduations planned at the Forum River Center and another at Barron Stadium (rain location: the Forum). Downtown parking website.
The city’s response to that:
“This was when the software could be put into place. We hoped to have it in place much sooner, but complications kept that from happening.”
Our concerns after a first read:
“The timing screams money grab for graduations even if unattended. It doesn’t matter that some lots will be free; parking will be maxed out especially if folks at the early graduations stay for lunch, dinner or parties. Isn’t that a plus for using the downtown venues — business spillover to restaurants and other venues? We’re stunned any of six city commissioners up for re-election didn’t flag the date. Or the Downtown Development Authority.” Background on city elections this fall.
2019 graduation schedule in downtown Rome:
- Model High School: Graduation: Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. at Forum River Center.
- Rome High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 8:45 a.m. at Barron Stadium.
- Coosa High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 10 a.m. at Forum River Center.
- Pepperell High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m at Forum River Center.
- Armuchee High School: Graduation: Saturday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at Forum River Center.