Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Good news for diners, drinkers, as Harrisburg council approves, extends free downtown parking program

With Tuesday’s City Council vote, the “Free Parking” sign will remain on the meter for another three years.

If you liked the past year of free evening parking in downtown Harrisburg, you’ll love this—City Council has approved renewal of the program for three more years.

Council unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday night that will allow for free street parking in most of downtown after 5 p.m. through April 2022.

“Overall, customers and restaurants are receiving positive outcomes from the 5 to 7 program,” said council President Wanda Williams, before casting her “yes” vote.

The “Free After 5” program has been in effect for the past year, with the city, Dauphin County and the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District (HDID) splitting the $270,000 price tag.

That money is paid to Trimont Real Estate Advisors, the asset manager for the parking system. Trimont, along with operator SP+ (locally, Park Harrisburg), took control of the city’s municipal parking system as part of a debt-restructuring plan in 2014.

The $270,000 sum represents the total revenue that SP+ had collected from meters and enforcement fines between 5 and 7 p.m. in the HDID zone, which ranges roughly from State Street to Chestnut Street.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse has said that the city’s portion for this year has already been budgeted for, with the money coming from the city’s share of parking revenues. The county still must approve the three-year term, which, according to city Solicitor Neil Grover, should happen on Wednesday. The county had already OK’d a one-year renewal.

According to HDID Executive Director Todd Vander Woude, businesses, especially restaurant owners, have reported increased sales since the program began in April 2018.

During last week’s council work session, Steve Weinstock, owner of Stock’s on 2nd and Carley’s Ristorante, reported much higher dinner receipts over the past year, crediting the free parking program.

Notably, council on Tuesday did not approve another request from Trimont, which wants $90,000 a year to continue the program that has offered four free hours of parking on Saturdays by using the LUV HBG code through the ParkMobile app.

“Council has not received any documents to prove [Trimont’s] statement,” Williams said of the request for $90,000.

Instead, council authorized the administration to negotiate with Trimont in the hope that the company will continue to allow use of the code at no cost to the city.

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