Council approves free parking for holiday season

Free parking will once again be provided this year for shoppers throughout downtown St. Marys during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as on Light Up Night. Depot Street will also be closed to through traffic on Light Up Night between 7:30 and 9 p.m. so that hay rides can be offered. Sally Wilson, Executive Director of the St. Marys Camber of Commerce, informed council members that Light Up Night this year is on Friday, Nov. 19. She requested that free parking be available throughout the downtown area on that night, as well as the period between Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, Nov. 25, and Christmas Eve on Friday, Dec. 24. Councilman Bob Roberts expressed concern about allowing free parking for essentially a month, given the current state of parking revenue in the city. "The only problem with it I see is that it is a whole month and if you look at our parking revenue, it's down pretty far," Roberts said. Councilman Dan Hepner also questioned Wilson regarding whether she believed the free parking actually helps businesses. Hepner added that, in the past, he has heard complaints about business employees taking up many of the parking spaces that should be reserved for customers. "We do encourage the owners of the businesses to police that and to try to control it as much as possible," Wilson said. "All I can say is I think it is a good gesture. I think that right now businesses probably could use as much help as we can give them. The signs go up that the parking is compliments of the City of St. Marys, so I think that there is some good public relations that comes from it."For more on this story, see the Nov. 5 edition of The Daily Press.