Lynchburg leaders prepare to activate on-street parking meters downtown

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) For decades the only place you could find a parking meter in downtown Lynchburg was on the wall in Thorne McCraw's furniture store.

He bought one when the city stopped using them in the early 80's and the relic has been on display in his store ever since.

"They were lined all the way up Main Street," McCraw said of the meters. "Downtown was a lot bigger then. It was more productive."

A few weeks ago, city leaders installed a modern parking meter on the street in front of McCraw's store.

"I'm not in favor of it, but I see where we are going to need it in the future," McCraw told WDBJ7.

The idea of reintroducing paid parking on downtown Lynchburg streets has been under review for several years.

"We're seeing a huge boom in our businesses," said Lynchburg's parking manager, David Malewitz.

According to Malewitz drivers are spending too much time in free spots on the street. Business owners want those spaces to turn over more frequently to make room for shoppers and diners who want to take a quick trip downtown.

"We need a better way to manage the parking program," Malewitz said. "What we did in the past is just not sufficient for what we need to do to continue the revitalization here in downtown Lynchburg."

The city is testing out meters with a pilot program. Soon, drivers will have to pay when they park along the 1200 block of Main Street and in the lot next to Lynchburg's Community Market.

"I'll either be walking a lot longer into the office to avoid paying, or I will have to shell out a few bucks every day and add that to the budget for work," said David Fredriksen, a downtown employee who typically parks in the community market lot.

Malewitz believes drivers will get used to the idea. He hopes they'll like features like the ability to pay using a credit card or cell phone.

"Once we get done with this pilot program we are going to go back, get community input, and just move the program forward from that," said Malewitz.

Drivers can learn more about the meters at a meeting this Wednesday, May 11 at 6 p.m. in the Lynchburg Community Market. City leaders plan to activate the meters May 16.