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Business Owners Upset About Bloomington Paid Parking Plan

The city of Bloomington is looking to expand paid parking in much of downtown.

The city of Bloomington is poised to approve a plan to install meters at most downtown parking spots, and public response to the plan was mixed at the series of official meetings held Thursday.

Bloomington placed time limits on many downtown parking spots in 1982. But city planners say they need a new strategy to address what they say will be an inevitable rise in the demand for parking as the population increases and two new hotels go up. They say metering spots will encourage motorists to use parking garages.

Some merchants who met with city officials say they are not convinced the meters would have the desired effect. Macey Dale, the manager at Andrew Davis Menswear, is especially concerned about the people who work downtown.

“I think that, in fact, those employees are going to continue to park in the same spots,” Dale says. “But now they’re going to be paying an outside company from Indianapolis that money that would otherwise be staying in their pockets and likely being spent in the downtown area,” he said.

But Malibu Grill managing partner John Bailey says he is most concerned about the people who come downtown to spend money.

“It’s sort of a battle between customers, employees and residents. And as a business owner, I prefer the customer to win,” he says.

Public Works Director Susie Johnson says city planners will make a proposal to the Common Council after they receive a report from the consulting firm they have hired to gather information.

That report will likely be complete in October.

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