Whitefish will launch a pilot parking program in July and August this summer creating a permit system with all-day parking passes.
City council last week approved the plan that designates up to 85 parking permits for all-day parking in four downtown parking lots. Permits will cost $ 20 per month – the same as the fine for a parking ticket.
Councilor Rebecca Norton said she hopes the pilot program will provide data on how it is functioning, especially ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer season.
âI would like us to get feedback from the workers who use it and on the cost,â she said. “We would really like to give people the option of leaving their cars and not having to worry about leaving their jobs over and over again, and also freeing up space for visitors.”
The program allows those with a permit to park Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in any of four parking lots – the parking lot at East Third Street and Central Avenue, the lot at East First Street and Spokane Avenue, directly on the lot south of the Whitefish Community Library and on the third floor of the Town Hall parking lot.
These parking lots allow for two and three hour parking open to the public, but the permit would allow all-day parking.
Whitney Brien, owner of Fleur Bake Shop, in an email to Council, said she supported the permit program.
âIt would be extremely beneficial not only for the convenient access to the downtown parking lot for my staff, but for all employees who work in the downtown area,â she said. âFinding available downtown parking spaces during busy months trying to get to work has become a headache for many.â
Toby Scotts said a parking permit is a good idea, but charging workers for the permits is not.
âI think a lower rate for downtown verified workers with additional fees for companies that employ these workers would make things fairer,â he said.
While the free parking is nice, he also added, it might be time to consider charging for downtown parking.
The city says the $ 20 fee is intended to cover the costs of running the pilot program, including signage.
The city’s parking permit implementation committee, made up of business owners, school representatives and city staff, recommended the program as a trial.
âThe committee recognized the importance of reducing the need for employees and business owners to leave work to move cars to avoid parking tickets,â said City Clerk Michelle Howke. âMaintain convenient on-street parking open to downtown business customers; minimize the costs for the city of the implementation of the pilot program; and collecting pilot program data to shape future parking management decisions.
In 2019, the city adopted a parking management plan with the aim of establishing a sustainable parking program and better managing existing parking lots. One of the recommendations of this plan was to create an employee parking permit program noting that there is a demand for better all-day employee parking options with between 200 and approximately 550 employee vehicles. parked downtown on a given day.
Parking permits are expected to go on sale soon via the online portal of the city’s website at https://www.cityofwhitefish.org/. For more information, contact Michelle Howke, [email protected] or call 406-863-2400.