“Our parking garages located throughout the city should be free for parking on Sundays,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, during a recent workshop session of the city council.
Morris said city businesses are open while shops in neighboring communities observe Sunday laws or blue laws, prohibiting sales of certain goods. He said by offering free parking city businesses will be positioned to take advantage of Bergen County’s blue laws.
Tony Perez, director of the Paterson Parking Authority, the city agency that manages the parking garages, agrees with Morris. The councilman is right on point, said Perez.
“The Parking Authority is ready and willing to help in any way to spur economic development and help bring back the vibrancy to our downtown area,” said Perez. Morris wants the city’s restaurants to take advantage of free parking to attract patrons from surrounding town when commerce is virtually halted there on Sundays.
Perez said the authority’s Ellison Street garage is open on Sundays. He said rate at the garage is $1 an hour during the weekend, Saturdays and Sundays. Perez further pointed out that a person is able to park at the garage for the entire day for a paltry $6.
“We’re doing a dollar an hour which I think is really the way to go,” said Perez. “You’re paying a dollar!”
Morris said in Montclair parking is free on Sundays allowing restaurants to tell their patrons they needn’t worry about parking. Perez said city garages already offer some elements of free parking.
“After we close, which is typically around 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., depending on the lot, we just raise the gates and everybody parks for free” said Perez. He said restaurants and stores open after the garages close are able to take advantage by offering free parking to their patrons.
Perez mentioned one restaurant that has been taking advantage of the raised gates, free parking after garages close. He said D’ Classico Restaurant takes advantage of the Ellison Street lot during the evening hours. “They take advantage of that and they can tell their customers it’s free,” said Perez. “We leave them open, let the people park for free,” said Perez.
The director also said after 5 p.m. the authority has discounted parking. He also cited the increased parking on Main Street – between Broadway and Ward Street — where the authority installed 76 new meters.
Perez said the authority is working with the city to offer more parking options and discounted prices.
“If there’s anything else we need to do, we will do,” said Perez. “We have to bring back the vibrancy of the downtown, there’s no questions about it.”