Editorial: Crank the lever: Here we go againThis venerable River Falls custom won’t go down without a fight: Downtown parking meters.
This venerable River Falls custom won’t go down without a fight: Downtown parking meters.
Installed mostly on Main Street and the side streets of Main, these manual, coin-fed gizmos are showing their age after more than 40 years.
Today the mechanisms are slowly disintegrating. Some are winter intolerant, freezing in the cold and requiring the radiance of a blow torch to thaw their metallic innards. Wet coins lodged inside also need drying before being transferrable to a local bank.
So the status quo is about to end? Don’t bet your coins on it.
With upgraded space-age digital meters that will likely accept cash and credit card swipes, future meters here seem destined to endure far into the 21st century.
The mindset from the River Falls powers-that-be is that parking meters belong. They’re inescapably bound with the cityscape.
So cheap to feed, they hark back to historic Americana — quaint, nostalgic, perhaps even a marketing gimmick for tourists.
How fanciful. The reality is that many people find them annoying, whether it’s just for pennies, nickels or dimes. Fishing out the change is always a nuisance. Past community surveys confirm that assessment.
Red Wing, Minn., with a robust downtown, ended its parking-meter fix more than two decades ago. There are still parking limits that are monitored by a community service officer.
River Falls has a three-week parking meter hiatus around Christmas and New Year’s. The absence of meter enforcement is played up like this: Come shop locally now that parking is free and convenient.
Could a year-round parking-meter cessation replicate the winter-holiday, hassle-free shopping experience? Might the seasonal change be extended to bring permanent cheer?
Downtowns and parking meters embody urban planning from a bygone era. Go beyond the Main Street core and parking is free. Go to any shopping center and mall and the parking is free. Even easier today are the Internet purchases done with a click from home or office.
If we want to entice shoppers, patrons and clients to the Main Street River Falls, let’s roll out an old-fashioned welcome mat. Change the mindset about parking-meter addiction.
Meters: Love ’em, hate ’em
The Journal’s current online poll question asks: What do you think about parking meters in River Falls? Early voting shows:
--Get rid of them, the downtown will be more shopper and user friendly, 50.0%
--They’re charming, keep them as they are, 36.4%
--Modernize them to take plastic money; they’re needed to keep parking spaces open, 13.6%.
To cast your vote, go to www.riverfallsjournal.com.