January 18, 2013 at 11:38 AM
A change has come to Summit’s parking system. The three parking lots located on DeForest Ave are now managed by a system of access tickets, gates and fees. This system is similar to ones used in Morristown and Montclair at their structured parking facilities. Summit’s new parking arrangement is unpopular with some people since it replaces what was free parking for many.
There are many parking options in Summit. Parking decks, street metered spaces, paid lots and private parking spaces. Summit’s reputation as a vital commercial center is due largely to nearly 4,000 parking spaces located within walking distance of downtown and the Summit train station. The City’s downtown sees large numbers of commuters, employees, business visitors and shoppers on a daily basis.
The perception of Summit’s parking has always been detached from reality. Yes the system sees heavy use, at times. Yes, over aggressive parking enforcement chilled visitor and shopper visits. Yes, the system is needlessly complicated and confusing. The reality is Summit has a good supply of parking spaces and the City is working toward a user-friendly and fairly priced arrangement for the spaces it manages.
Free parking was never free. City owned tax exempt parking lots in the middle of town are expensive to operate. It takes people, equipment and cash to plow, sweep, monitor, repair and insure them. These large chucks of tax exempt real estate contribute little. The practice of aggressive ticketing only drives visitors away and seeds an unfriendly reputation. Summit is different than smaller less vibrant communities and thankful it’s not like a Mall. These comparisons are flawed.
Summit’s new parking arrangement, while not popular with some, was necessary to solve the problems of revenue to cover costs, ticketing, misuse by employees, and improving lots in disrepair. The heartless comment by some that the public should shun visiting merchants because of this change in parking speaks for itself.
Summit has outstanding merchants and positive business energy. A change to parking doesn’t change that fact.
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