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April 18, 2013

Parking solution around Corner

NORMAN — Technology could save one of Norman’s oldest and most well-known traditions: shopping, eating and drinking on Campus Corner. Limited availability to parking has created a challenge to Corner merchants, but high-tech parking meters could provide a solution.

“There are 159 parking meters currently in the Campus Corner areas,” city engineer Anthony Lombardo told members of the Norman City Council on Wednesday at the council’s Finance Committee.

The Corner’s existing meters have been in place for at least 40 years and require patrons to put in coins to avoid getting a ticket.

New meters will take credit and debit cards, tokens and smart phone payments. Metered spaces on Boyd Street, University Boulevard, Buchanan Avenue, Asp Avenue and White Street that would be affected by the new system.

Norman’s Campus Corner, the business district just north of the University of Oklahoma campus, has almost as long a tradition as Sooner football. Known for its eclectic shops, fun eateries, evening entertainment and pubs, the Corner appeals to a wide clientele.

The Corner recently got a facelift, paid for through a special fund generated from a Tax Increment Finance District. TIF No. 1 was established in 2001 for $1.2 million to finance various public amenities for the Campus Corner area including lighting, sidewalk repair, crosswalks, landscaping, signage and other improvements. The city and other stakeholders affected by the temporary sales tax diversion — such as the public schools — had to sign off on the TIF.

The proximity to campus makes Campus Corner walkable for students and professors, but some students use the parking spaces while they are attending classes. The new meters would be more convenient for shoppers who don’t carry coins, but they could also combat the problem of student parking.

Merchants have asked that the new meters be installed by Aug. 1 before fall classes start.

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