Council seeks views on parking

KATE DAVIDSON
Last updated 12:58 05/05/2014

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Free parking Tuesdays could become free bus riding Tuesdays as the Nelson City Council asks for feedback from the community and businesses on how it should manage parking in the city.

The council is reviewing how it runs parking in the city centre, Tahunanui, and Stoke.

Suggestions from the council for the city centre include retaining charges at $1 an hour, but increasing long stay parking charges to balance this out, and providing more payment options.

Other options include trialling car pooling parks in highly sought after areas to encourage people to share rides, providing more space for outdoor dining areas, and providing better information about parking options to stop drivers circling around looking for parks.

Planning and regulatory committee chairman Brian McGurk said today views from the community would help inform the development of a strategy.

"It is about picking up on issues that people have raised and is basically about planning the parking strategy for 10 years out for here," he said.

"We are asking people to give us some ideas to inform the strategy."

McGurk said the council was also looking at different technology, which could make parking easier.

City parking has been controversial, with many businesses saying it is hard to compete with the free parking in Richmond.

But McGurk said there was no such thing as free parking as it was either ratepayers footing the bill or users.

Uniquely Nelson manager Cathy Madigan said the organisation supported a change on time limits as retailers and hospitality businesses were having customers run off because of time restrictions.

"We support anything that allows people to park for longer, we are not suggesting all day, but to redistribute those time limits so people can actually stay in town a little bit longer," she said.

"Of course, we are not suggesting free parking on those meters. It's not the dollar an hour that's the problem, it's the one hour and having to rush off that's the problem."

Uniquely Nelson also supported rewarding those who spent money in the city with some kind of rebate for their parking, but the finer details were not yet worked out.

Owner of Nelson Tailors Menswear Sharon Dunbar said the Tasman and Nelson councils needed to be on the same page when it came to parking to make it fair on retailers.

"People are going to go where it's free, easy and convenient," she said, but Dunbar thought free parking would work in Nelson only if there were strict time limits so workers could not take up the parking, which would "defeat the purpose of free parking".

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Gustavs Menswear owner Gus Beullens said the greatest issue with parking was the "aggressive, no-mercy parking officers".

He would like to see better parking offers to get people into the city once things quietened down after the end of summer.

Beullens suggested free parking days on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Several businesses on Main Rd and Putaitai St in Stoke said time limits needed reviewing for the area's parking, especially parking outside shops. There needed to be more monitoring of cars staying too long in these spots.

Most businesses said there was enough parking for workers and small improvements could be made to the Strawbridge Square parking space, which the council is planning.

While businesses on the left-hand side of Tahunanui said with the limited parks on their side of the road, people parked in spaces around the Tahunanui Recreation Reserve, but then had to cross the busy road, which was hazardous.

Violet Harley, owner of Harley's Pharmacy, said crossing the road was particularly hard for her older customers and it would be better if there was more parking on the left-hand side of the road or a safer way to cross the road.

McGurk said once feedback was received, a draft strategy should be out by the end of next month and would go up for formal consultation.

- Nelson

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