Put the covers on downtown meters

It’s tough to generate much enthusiasm for a hike down Main Street on a cold day in January. Even less appealing may be walking on the sidewalks of the western-most blocks of Main Street, fenced in by construction barricades and accompanied by the noise of heavy equipment in the background. Finding a parking spot near Main Street that’s not in the parking structure is no picnic, either.

All of which help to explain why the sidewalks on Main Street from Fourth Street westward have been virtually deserted so far this week, and why businesses in those blocks are worried about their economic future.

The city of Grand Junction can do nothing about the frigid temperatures, much as we might like to hold some of our elected officials to blame for the cold.

And the construction being undertaken through the Downtown Uplift project will, we are convinced, result in a more aesthetically pleasing and vibrant west end of Main Street later this year.

The city is paying for the utilities upgrade in the project, but the Downtown Development Authority and its member property owners are covering most of the cost of the Main Street refurbishment because they believe it will benefit the downtown area in the long run.

However, there is one way by which the city could greatly assist the merchants on the west end of Main Street and the customers who wish to patronize those businesses: It could put the red sleeves back over the parking meters downtown and allow free parking throughout the area until the uplift project is completed.

The city puts the covers over the parking meters for roughly a month each holiday season — from Thanksgiving to Christmas — to encourage more people to shop downtown.

Encouraging more people to shop downtown now is just as important, especially when the Main Street construction work is discouraging some folks from visiting the west end of the downtown shopping park. Consumers looking to shop elsewhere in the city, say at Mesa Mall or in the Rimrock shopping complex, don’t have to pay anything for parking.

It’s time for the city to put the covers back on downtown parking meters.


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