2-hour free parking may be coming to Midtown Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Stephanie Perry is coming up on Yellow Bird Cafe’s four-year anniversary. When she opened the doors to the Midtown bakery and sandwich shop, her customers had a constant concern.

“We have a lot of people call in and ask where to park,” she said, “and we’re always trying to direct them.”

Perry along and other business owners along North Third Street hope City Council approves an ordinance that would turn two city-owned lots and about 100 spaces along side-streets to free, two-hour parking.

“It’ll be so nice just to say you can park directly across the street,” Perry said.

“More people than ever are going to the market,” Mayor Eric Papenfuse said. “One offshoot of this is it’s been a little bit hard to find parking lately. People are parking on the grass, they’re parking on sidewalks. We don’t want that.”

Josh Kessler is in the process of buying a vacant grassy lot next to the market for commercial use. However, if the ordinance passes, people would be fined if they park on that grass lot.

The mayor said the ordinance is to promote turnover for area businesses.

“Shop at the market, shop Midtown, get some food and not have to worry about being able to find a free place to park,” he said.

Papenfuse said the residential areas do not include most places where people live. He said the side streets are more of an unmarked area where state workers park all day for free.

“We don’t want state workers parking there all day,” he said. “This way, they’ll be what they’re designed to do: generate economic activity in that part of Midtown.”

The mayor said the city cooperated with SP Plus to allow the free parking in Midtown. However, SP Plus would be in charge of policy enforcement in the area.

Perry believes the added space could only help her and other businesses in Midtown.

“To have that parking lot filled over the weekend, it’s exciting to go there are people here,” she said.

Mayor Papenfuse said City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance next Tuesday.

Correction: This article has been updated to include the correct lot included in the ordinance.

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