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PARKING: Frustrated College Park Shoppers Hit Hyattsville Haunts with Free Parking

Some locals say they're patronizing Hyattsville retail since College Park installed new multi-space parking meters in shopping areas.

Michele Lionardi and Lisa Holt of College Park, have started ditching their city's shopping venues for stores in Hyattsville.

The reason: parking meters.

Comments left about a parking survey might shed the most light on what influences consumers when deciding where to shop now a days—the new parking meters in downtown College Park.

“I am not alone among my neighbors in boycotting College Park shopping center since they installed those money-hungry inconvenient parking meters,” wrote Michele Leonardi, referring to the credit card parking meters that replaced the coin meters this summer.

“I find the new pay station at the shopping center so annoying. The meters were so much easier,” wrote Lisa Holt.

The minimum amount a parker can pay is 25 cents for 20 minutes of parking. Credit card users are forced to pay a 75-cent minimum for an hour of parking since the city must pay a 25-cent fee for every credit card transaction, Patch reported in August.

But expatriate College Park shoppers beware. Rumblings of , , have been heard for some time.

Earlier this year, Carol Cron, former owner of at , said

UTC offers a parking garage and a parking lot for patrons.

“Parking was a joke,” Cron said. “Putting meters in the lot across from Five Guys was fine—prevent employees and Metro users from parking there ... but they were 24/7! How stupid is that?”

You can park in the parking garages at UTC for up to two hours before paying. There is also a parking lot along East West Highway where patrons can use credit card parking meters to pay. There are a few short-term parking spaces along America Boulevard, which runs through the center, which don’t require payment.

In Hyattsville, UTC isn’t the only problem parking area.

Liz Alexander, owner of Under the Coconut Tree, told Patch that Her restaurant faces a part of the street that has meters and patrons picking up their take out food don’t have a place to park while they run inside.

And at The Shoppes at Arts District Hyattsville, where Tara Thai and Essential Day Spa are located, . One patron, Lynn Cotturo, commented that the situation is irritating.

“Hope they do something about the parking before customers get frustrated and leave for good—took me 30 [minutes] to find parking on Saturday night,” she wrote on Patch.

Vincent Jones, Hyattsville’s former city administrator, discussed the parking meters matter with the City Council on multiple occasions before he left his post in summer.

Meters, he told the council then, can be good in areas with little parking so patrons come and go within a lesser amount of time.

Talk about meters in Hyattsville has included the arts district, and other smaller shopping locales.

No decisions have been made.

In College Park, city staff told Patch that the meters were put in for convenience.

You can let your thoughts be known by taking

Danny October 07, 2011 at 12:19 PM
instead of nickel-and-diming customers in developments that are already struggling to attract and retain merchants, developers and/or municipalities should consider cost-free parking meters, like the ones used in the pentagon row surface lots in arlington or the ones used at jenkins row in SE DC. when you park at the meter, you press the button and get a set amount of complimentary time (usually 1 hour), so that you can do your shopping or dining before the meter runs out (at which point you could be ticketed). you're not inconveniencing or charging your customers, but you're still ensuring the turnover of spaces. UTC would have been the perfect spot for these types of meters -- they'd prevent the office workers, moviegoers (who get validated 4-hour garage parking), and metro commuters from monopolizing the surface parking, while allowing customers of the struggling UTC restaurants to have a meal without being forced to feed a meter or deal with UTC's inconvenient garages (which require even the under-two-hours parkers to get a ticket and wait in line to leave while trying to avoid jaywalking pedestrians on the vehicular ramps).
Janel October 07, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Our family of 5 definitely stopped patronizing the UTC and the College Park shopping centers because of the frustration and annoyance with the new parking meters. We used to get burgers at Five Guys every once in awhile until they installed the meters, now we just go to Elevation Burger. If we go out for a bite to eat as a family, there are many comparable options in Hyattsville that don't have the added frustration of feeding a meter. The new CP meters are maddening. After carrying a heavy baby from meter to meter because they were broken, our family has vowed never to go there again. A trip to Jason's Deli for our 6 year old's birthday treat, ended in frustration and tears because we couldn't get a meter to register while managing 3 kids in the parking lot and we didn't want the added bonus of a $30 parking ticket. We ended up going to Franklins and everything was wonderful. I really feel sorry for the business owners in CP because people will choose to go elsewhere if they have to manage those meters.
Linda V. October 07, 2011 at 05:29 PM
I agree that the new meter machines in College Park are annoying but I never have trouble parking at UTC. I head to the structures and park for two hours free. There's always a convenient spot available. Where is the story about the lack of adequate parking at the EYA development? What is the deal with that?

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