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The Daily Tar Heel

Park it like it’s hot: Chapel Hill Town Council should adopt resolutions to make some downtown lots free after 6 p.m.

Anyone who has ever attempted to park in downtown Chapel Hill knows what a hassle it can be.

There are too few spaces on the street and too few lots, and it’s becoming increasingly rare to carry around a stash of spare quarters to feed a meter.

Instead of dealing with these troubles, some drivers simply go elsewhere.

This happens all too often, so it’s good news that the Chapel Hill Town Council is looking to change that.

The council should adopt the changes suggested earlier this week by Kenneth Pennoyer, the town business management director.

Two proposals, to make two lots free after 6 p.m. and add credit card readers to meters, are great ideas to encourage more people to come downtown and alleviate a major obstacle to their doing so.

At face value, the town would lose about $50,000 if parking at the two lots on West Franklin and West Rosemary streets became free after 6 p.m.

But the increased sales tax revenue should cover the loss, said Jim Norton, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

By creating more free parking, more visitors will be inclined to come downtown and spend more time and money.

The third proposal, to raise meter prices 25 cents to $1.25 per hour is unfortunately necessary because it will encourage parking turnover and help pay for the new meter system and lost revenue on the free lots.

Several local leaders came out in favor of this new measure, including Norton.

“The easier parking becomes, the more visitors we think will come, hence more revenue,” Norton said.

The hope is that the increased revenue will eventually pay for the meters and then some.

A bustling downtown is vital for the town economically. But a major hurdle to spending an afternoon on Franklin Street is the lack of parking.

Even though the costs seem high at first, the increased revenue for businesses and ease for drivers are worth the changes.

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