Parking in Tyler’s downtown Fair Parking Garage soon will be free.
The Tyler City Council made the decision Wednesday during a regularly scheduled meeting.
The city soon will take down the arms at the garage gate and eliminate the parking attendant. But the city still will sell premium spaces on the ground floor near exits for $60 a month and reserved spaces for $30 a month.
The premium spaces will be marked with a name or company logo.
The city also will sell poster-sized ads on the interior walls of the garage for $250 for three months.
City officials hope the changes will increase the public’s usage of the parking garage - and lead to the city losing less money on operating the parking garage.
“I think the gate mechanism has been frustrating and people haven’t used the garage as much as they would have, had it not been,” council member Don Warren said.
A survey taken by city staff supported that; in response to a question about issues with the garage, a plurality cited “gates not working” as the biggest issue.
City staffers Adrianne Leach and Kristi Boyett took on the project during the summer, with the goal of increasing usage of the garage and reducing its deficit.
Currently, the garage operates at about $47,500 per year in the red. The new rate structure, though free to most of the public, could reduce that to as little as $25,569 in the red next year. And it could soon break even.
“I think you’ll get to zero a lot quicker than you think,” council member John Nix said. “I think a lot of businesses will take advantage of it and get reserved spaces for their clients.”
Mayor Martin Heines, whose company owns and manages some downtown properties, abstained from the vote and did not participate in the discussion.