By Sydney Dawes
Athens NEWS Editor
Temporary changes will soon come to parking protocol in uptown Athens.
Athens City Council on Monday moved to suspend a part of Athens City Code that enforced meter parking Uptown, as well as temporarily to suspend the 24-hour parking rule in the city.
The ordinance, introduced by councilperson Peter Kotses, suspended Athens City Code, which penalized continuous parking in the same location on city streets. The suspension of this part of the city code will last from Dec. 15 to Jan. 5, 2021.
The ordinance authorizes the city’s service safety director to suspend, temporarily, the fee for parking at metered spaces in the municipal parking garage and on-street metered parking.
“The reduced parking meters on Thursday nights and Saturdays is to encourage folks to shop uptown during December,” City Council President Chris Knisely explained in an email. The City Council president also noted that free parking will also exist above the first floor upper level in the municipal parking garage at 8 W. Washington St.
“This is to help our local businesses who are running on skeleton budgets,” said councilperson Kotses in an email. He also introduced this ordinance during the Nov. 2 meeting.
“The city is not netting a bunch of meter revenues right now so this is not a huge hit to the city coffers when you look at the larger picture,” Kotses said. “I’m happy to see the mayor and administration doing what they can to preserve business for better days.”
Per the ordinance, the Service-Safety Director is hereby authorized to suspend the fee for parking in the Municipal Parking Garage, excluding 2-hour metered spaces on the upper first level, as follows: after 5 p.m. on Dec. 3, 10, 17, and 24, and all day Nov. 28, and Dec. 5, 12, 19, and 26. The service-safety director is further authorized to suspend the on-street metered parking fee after 5 p.m. from Dec. 13, through midnight on Jan. 2, 2021.
The ordinance was ultimately amended during the Nov. 2 meeting.
In addition, during the Nov. 2 meeting, council moved to approve an ordinance that codified the pilot program for parklets.
Parklets are outdoor seating spaces that are installed in parking lanes to increase the amount of seating or outdoor space that a business has at its disposal. An ordinance to create temporary sidewalk extensions in the public rights-of-way was previously introduced at the June Council meeting. Athens city planner Paul Logue and Deputy Service Safety Director Andrew Chiki then explained to Council in June how the use of parklets during the late spring and summer months every year could allow for more people to shop at businesses in the Uptown Athens area. Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, located on Court Street, participated in the parklet pilot program this summer.