GREAT FALLS – During a hearing Tuesday night, the City Commission will hear public comment regarding a hot topic in Great Falls: downtown parking.
“I have to say there’s been a whole lot of dialogue the last couple of years between these folks who service bravely on the Parking Advisory Commission and the downtown folks as well,” Mayor Bob Kelly said.
The Great Falls Parking Advisory has recommended raising the parking fee to $1/hr.
“I think what we are really seeing here is the recognition that the fact that our downtown is growing,” Kelly said. “It’s not going to get any better with the parking situation if we don’t do something. What that something is needs to be determined.”
Kelly said he understands the issue’s outcome may not please everyone, but the discussion between the Parking Advisory and those who live and work downtown has been an important part of the decision-making process.
“Tonight is just a hearing for the community and a recommendation by people who have been studying it for a long time to see if this would be the right decision at this time,” he said.
Kelly said raising the parking meter prices recognizes that downtown Great Falls is growing.
“The Commission and the parking advisory group, we’re not trying to kill downtown. We’re talking about a 50 cent increase – a dollar an hour. As you look around the state, the region, you gotta put that in perspective,” he said. “Some people feel that downtown can’t handle that, but we’ve seen a lot of growth down there and a lot of new attractions to draw people there.”
Kelly said he’s anxious to hear the public’s thoughts during Tuesday’s meeting.
The Parking Advisory is also recommending a change fee for parking tickets. Parking garages and surface lots will stay at the same fee of 50 cents an hour.
The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News