UP City Council Postpones Snider Plaza Parking Action

The University Park City Council has postponed action on a recommendation that would require many customers to pay for parking spots in Snider Plaza’s surface lot.

“We’re hearing up here that there needs to be some more work done and some more thought and communication to understand where we’re going to go and how we’re going to do it,” Mayor Pro Tem Mark Aldredge said before making a motion for postponement at the June 4 council meeting. He thanked the Snider Plaza Employee Parking Task Force for its work on the issue.

Parking in Snider Plaza has been a challenge since at least 1956, task force chair David Rejebian told the council before its vote. The majority of spaces in the plaza are occupied by employees who don’t have elsewhere to park. This leads to frustration from customers, who need to circle the plaza to find spots, Rejebian said.

The parking task force, whose members included residents, a representative of SMU parking, and representatives of Snider Plaza businesses, recommended a $3 per hour fee to park in the surface lot, with no charge for the first 15 minutes. Customers would need to scan a QR code with their smartphones in order to park. 

Paid parking would not be implemented until after the completion of the Snider Plaza infrastructure project. Merchants could opt to validate parking, and the first hour of parking would remain free in the Hilltop Garage.

Fees would fund the hiring of a parking management company and pay for employee parking elsewhere. This would come as a cost-savings to city, which is currently paying $8,000 each month for 100 parking spots in the Hilltop Garage, Rejebian said after the meeting.

Any excess funds would remain in Snider Plaza. An advisory board would be created to oversee the parking program and help determine how funds should be spent. A resident parking district would be created on streets west of Snider Plaza, and the city would work on a plan to alleviate congestion caused by trucks in Snider Plaza alleys.

Two residents and a business owner who spoke at the meeting expressed concern about whether the task force had considered all available options, and if paid parking would deter customers from shopping in Snider Plaza.

“As merchants, we want shoppers to stay in the Plaza. We want them to not be rushed by the cost of a parking meter, and the longer that a customer shops, the more money they’re likely to spend,” Logos Bookstore owner Susan Lewis said. “We do appreciate why the parking meters are being suggested, but don’t necessarily think that the ends justify the means.”

One resident told the council that paid parking would be a “drastic change” for the community. “We all want customers in Snider Plaza,” she said. “It seems to me that asking the customer who gets the parking place, which isn’t easy, to pay for it is obscene.”

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the purchase of a used ambulance. The purchase price would be offset by fees the city has collected for use of its vehicles at special events, Fire Chief Randy Howell told the council.
  • Approved an ordinance amendment that would increase from four to eight the number of banners that can be mounted on fencing around University Park Elementary.
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