City considers paying to park at Forsyth Park

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As people begin to get used to downtown Savannah's newest parking structure, more changes could be coming to the city's parking system.

Now, the city of Savannah is looking at a proposal which would require people to pay to park at Forsyth Park, but the city says the funds generated by the new parking structure will allow them to make some enhancements to the park.

"Folks have become used to having those areas for free and parking there for an extended amount of time, but we know creating turnover in these locations will create an atmosphere where more people can get to the park and café and hopefully generate funds so we can make improvements," Savannah's Director of Office of Special Events, Film, and Tourism, Susan Broker, said.

The proposal includes charging drivers $1 per hour at the parking lots located at Park Avenue and Drayton Street. The city would enforce the new parking rule Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Broker said the money generated at Forsyth Park would be invested into the park. The city is considering adding security at the park, improving lighting, and creating a better clean up program. The city is also looking at installing new bathrooms near the south end of the park.

Megan Williams says she enjoys visiting Forsyth Park and wouldn't mind paying to park her car.

"I'm okay with paying, honestly, especially if the fees are going towards the park and not other places. That makes sense to me," Williams said.

The city will begin to organize public meetings throughout the next few weeks to residents can provide their input on the proposal.

If city leaders vote in favor of the change, drivers could be paying to park at Forsyth Park by mid-summer.

On Thursday, the city of Savannah provided an update on its latest parking structure.

Sean Brandon, Director of Parking and Mobility, says the new changes are causing a higher turnover, which means people are finding it easier to park, especially on Saturdays.

The city is also issuing fewer tickets. According to Brandon, parking citations are down 20 percent within the last month. He says his team is continuing to work with downtown employees who have been impacted by the changes.

"If you're a nighttime worker, we understand you don't want to park a mile away from downtown when you're getting off your shift late, so we offer $35 cards in any downtown garage for you to park. We can offer that because we know our demand is lower at night than it is during the middle of the day," Brandon said.

Brandon says people are also enjoying the new Park Savannah app where people can pay to park using their phones.

Those who do not want to pay in two zones can still use the free shuttle.

"They love the transportation options of the shuttle, but they want to see it expanded, so we can expect more shuttle times to expand this summer to a much later time than what they currently are," Brandon said.

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