By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Campus Corner has been around since the early 1900s, but in August, new smart meters will bring modern technolgy to the historic shopping and dining district.
The Campus Corner Merchant Association has been working with city staff to hammer out a parking management plan that will keep spaces available for patrons, rather than employees or students attending classes.
Leftover TIF funds will pay for the new smart meters. The TIF was created as a revenue stream to pay for beautification and street improvements. Once the street project was completed, Corner merchants asked the city to use the remainder of the fund for smart parking meters.
Campus Corner merchants Jeff Stewart and Rainy Powell said employees have other places to park and they want those storefront slots saved for paying customers. Stewart and Powell recently presented the Norman City Council with ideas about the pricing and management of the 159 parking spaces.
Pricing will be higher in the Campus Corner area parking slots to deter students from parking all day while they attend class. A two-hour time limit also will be imposed and sensors will reset the meters when vehicles leave their spaces.
Corner merchants have asked for a dedicated parking officer to be paid out of the revenues generated by the parking spaces. The smart meters will be programmed to recognize designated commercial parking zones from 6 to 10 a.m. to prevent parking in delivery areas.
Enforcement hours are also an issue for the Corner. While daytime customers often come on foot and by bike, the Corner really comes alive at night when parking spots are needed most. Merchants want to extend enforcement at least until 8 p.m.
The old meters are an inconveniience, but they are very low cost. The new meters will charge higher hourly rates.
While merchants said they favor a phasing in of parking meter increases, city council members said its better to raise the rates at once and let people get used to it rather than raising those fees in short-term increments. Prices are expected to run from $1 to $2 per hour.
Merchants have asked for the first 30 minutes to be free to accommodate people dashing in to pick up food or other items.