Downtown merchants question installation of parking meters

Downtown merchants question installation of parking meters

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Cars parking on Main Street in Historic Downtown Branson the afternoon of May 8, 2019.

City of Branson Parking Meter Study

A recent article published in this paper entitled “Downtown Parking Meters to Benefit Both City’s $800,000 Bathroom and parks,” in hindsight, probably should have been entitled, “Could Downtown Parking Meters Benefit Both City’s $800,000 Bathroom and Parks?” The article reported on a recent “Downtown Branson Parking Meter Study” conducted by the city’s engineering department. It is available on www.BransonRegister.Com at www.bransonregister.com/could-downtown-parking-meters-benefit-citys-800000-bathroom-and-parks/

Purpose of Parking Meter Study

The purpose of the study was to see if parking meters in the downtown area would generate revenue. The study indicated that revenue would be used for improving and maintaining the downtown area. This includes funds for the completion of the last two remaining phases of the Downtown Improvement Project, maintenance of completed and future phases, and the future expansion of downtown parking.

Petition Against Installing Parking Meters in Historic Downtown Branson

Miriam Merrifield, the owner of two down town businesses, “Down Town Casual Wear” and “Pure Country Western Wear, said that she is not in favor of installing parking meters in the downtown area. She said that she believes they will discourage people from shopping in downtown Branson.

Merrified is one of the originators of a petition against installing parking meters in Historic Downtown Branson. The Petition states that the people signing it “believe that parking meters in Historic Downtown Branson is a horrible idea for our customers.” It goes on to point out that a lot of the downtown businesses are small family owned businesses that thrive off the tourist trade.

The petition says that people are already shocked by the high taxes in Historic Downtown Branson and that the last thing they need is to have to put a card in a meter in order to shop there. It stresses this is especially the case when free parking is only two blocks away at Branson Landing.

There are multiple copies of the petition being circulated around the Downtown Area. The copies that this reporter saw contained about 45 signatures representing over 20 downtown Branson businesses.

Sends Wrong Message to Prospective Customers

An information sheet, prepared by Merrifield and others, shares the opinion that “Historic Downtown Branson tells a story of small-town America, locally owned and operated businesses along cobblestone sidewalks. A place where shoppers experience the nostalgia of how things used to be and are won over by the friendly service and unique shops and restaurants.

“Parking meters tell the wrong story. It tells the tale about a town… care[ing] less about the shopper and shop keepers than it does about its own coffers. It sends a message loud and clear to passersby, ‘You are welcome here only if you pay, and only for a short time.’

“Let’s leave the meters in the big, greedy cities and allow our customers to enjoy what our small downtown can offer.”

Downtown Would be Only Major Shopping Area Requiring Paid Parking

It also set forth some “notable concerns.” Among others, is the fact that Downtown Branson will be the only location in all of Branson that charges for parking. Another concern relates to the possibility that parking meters will keep a percentage of shoppers from shopping in Historic Downtown Branson. The loss of these visitors will cause a decrease in sales and profits for the businesses in Historic Downtown Branson and could also “cause a decrease in the sales tax collected for the city, offsetting the purpose of the meters.

The information sheet states that “customers are hard to attract” and that “Branson has an extremely large vacancy rate in retail space, with locations like the Branson Landing, the Branson Mall, the Grand Village and just about every strip mall in town struggling to generate and sustain businesses… These areas do not charge to park.  The last thing businesses in Downtown Branson need is a reason for customers to go elsewhere.”

Merrified is one of the originators of a petition against installing parking meters in Historic Downtown Branson. The Petition states that the people signing it “believe that parking meters in Historic Downtown Branson is a horrible idea for our customers.” It goes on to point out that a lot of the downtown businesses are small family owned businesses that thrive off the tourist trade.

The petition says that people are already shocked by the high taxes in Historic Downtown Branson and that the last thing they need is to have to put a card in a meter in order to shop there. It stresses this is especially the case when free parking is only two blocks away at Branson Landing.

Related Story: Could Downtown parking meters benefit city’s $800,000 bathroom and parks?