NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – There’s a new tool to enforce parking in downtown Noblesville. The goal is to bring more business to the square, but store owners believe it may do the opposite.
The City recently added a new parking enforcement vehicle to its fleet. This vehicle is equipped with new technology and a license plate reader (LPR) camera that scans vehicle license plates. The old method of parking enforcement used a scooter and chalking tires.
“Parking is just a natural problem for downtown,” said local business owner Rori Anderson.
Buck, of Buck’s Barber Shop added, “I’ve gotten enough tickets to cover everybody in the shop.”
Currently, the city ordinance allows for two hours of free parking in certain areas of downtown from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. There are no restrictions for weekends or evenings, after 5 p.m.
“We can cover a lot more ground, more quickly this way,” said Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt.
Business owners like Anderson say two hours isn’t enough time to visit the downtown square and people don’t want to park far away to visit.
“I suppose you can ask the customer to park four blocks away and walk in,” said Anderson. “The issue is when you have employees of different businesses who go out and move their cars multiple times a day rather than pay for parking.”
Just across the square, you’ll find Buck’s Barber Shop, where his customers are confused by the vehicle.
“I don’t think it really helps the tourism part of downtown Noblesville, they’ve talked for years trying to expand that and it just seems counter-productive to me,” said Buck.
Chief Jowitt wants to clear up any confusion. The parking ordinance has been the same for the last 25 to 30 years. This vehicle doesn’t have any impact on what rules there currently are. He says what’s different is the vehicle and efficiency.
“This is new technology that is enabling us to be a whole lot more efficient with our parking enforcement in Noblesville,” said Jowitt.
According to city officials, the ordinance allows for two free hours a day, not two hours per spot. After two hours in the free two-hour space zone you would be in violation. The new technology will eliminate the ability of “jumpers” – drivers who move their vehicle every two hours in the free two-hour parking zone. Instead, these prime spaces will be more available for visitors and customers.
“We’ve been using basically 1930s technology up until we got this, which was a chalk stick,” said Jowitt.
In a recent downtown parking study, 73% of spaces in the free 2-hour parking zone saw turnover in one hour and 92% of spaces had turnover in two hours. Parking has been discussed for a long time in our city, but our downtown is vibrant and thriving. Part of the challenge we face is changing the mindset – there are plenty of options to park all-day or free, but it may require a few minutes of short-distance walking.
The city wants to stress there are several parking lots with meters and a new parking garage currently under construction.
Click here to see a closer look at the Noblesville parking map.