by Emily Luxen
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Visitors to downtown Clarksville may notice some changes when they park their cars.
New high-tech “smart meters” not only provide one hour of free parking, but have been designed to make it easier for customers to pay. The meters have been installed throughout downtown for about two weeks, but starting Thursday, the city began issuing tickets for violators.
“With an hour of free time this should really handle a lot of the complaints we get about parking downtown,” said David Smith, Parking Manager for the City of Clarksville.
All of the 216 meters offer a first hour of parking for free, and allow customers to add up to two additional hours with either coins or credit or debit cards. Smith said when a car enters a parking spot, a sensor in the ground sends a signal to activate the meter. A screen then prompts customers to add extra time if needed.
When the car leaves, the sensor re-sets the meter.
Smith said the meters are easy to use and will hopefully attract more people to downtown.
“Since the first hour is free, you really only have to drop in a couple of quarters to spend a lot of time shopping, dining, or whatever your plans may be,” said Smith.
Downtown business owners like George Hartman support the new meters. Hartman said customers who visit his bakery often complain about having to pay to park for just a few minutes when they are just running in to pick up a cake order.
“Most people aren’t here that long,” said Hartman, owner of George the Cake Guy bakery. “If people know they can find a spot and it is free for an hour, I think it will really help several businesses.”
Smith said all street parking in downtown is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, and he hopes customers will take advantage of that as well.
The Clarksville Parking Authority is holding a meeting June 9 to get feedback on the new meters. It starts at 5:30 p.m., at the Riverview Inn on College Street and is open to the public.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org