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    Posted April 22, 2014 by
    La Crosse, Wisconsin

    Paying to Park

    Finding a spot to park in downtown La Crosse, WI could be a very difficult task. Yes, there are parking spots on the sides of the roads, but they all fill up really fast and there never seems to be an open spot when you are looking for one. So where is the next best place to park your vehicle while enjoying the beautiful downtown La Crosse? The parking ramp! Or at least that was the next best place until they started charging people money to leave their vehicles there.  The Parking Utility Board, which meets monthly to discuss topics like parking rules and fees for the public parking ramps and lots, decided that it was necessary to start charging people at three of the four public parking ramps. Starting on April 21, 2014, people will be able to leave their vehicle in the parking ramps for three hours for free, but once those three hours expire, you better get your wallets out because it will cost you money! On weekdays from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm it will cost you $0.75 per hour, on weekdays from 6:00 pm – 1:00 am it will be free parking, on weekends and holidays from 8:00 am – 1:00 am it will also be free parking, and every day from 1:00 am to 8:00 am it will be $0.50 per hour.  Even though it is estimated that the parking ramps would make $75,000 annually from charging people which would help with the maintenance of the ramps, there are still a couple downfalls to this. One downfall that would make a huge negative impact on the community is the amount of drunk drivers. No amount of money would make a difference for a family who lost someone to a person who made a bad decision and drove home after having a few at the bar. When people are intoxicated, they do not always make the best decisions in life. I feel like people are not going to want to leave their cars in the parking ramps over night because it will end up costing them money.  Being that La Crosse is a college town, many of the people going out to the bars on a Friday and Saturday night are going to be college students. Most college students do not have that much money, and the money they do have goes to rent, tuition, and going out on the weekends. They will most likely spend way too much money at the bars and won’t want to spend anymore to keep their vehicles there for the night, so in their minds, the smartest thing would be to drive the cars home to save them a couple bucks. Those people driving home just to save some money after a night out on the town could end up having to pay way more than just those couple of dollars if they were to crash into another vehicle and severely hurt someone else or even kill them. Not only would it cost them a lot of money, buy they would have to live with the guilt of what they did for the rest of their lives when this whole situation could have been avoidable if they did not have to pay to leave their vehicle in the parking ramp overnight.  Another downfall that is not as serious as drunk driving, but still would have an impact on -parking downtown would be that workers of the companies downtown would take up all the on street parking spaces. At first, the employees were parking on the roads and taking customers parking spots, so a lot of employers started having their employee’s park in the parking ramps to open up more spots. Now that they are going to have to pay to leave their cars there while they go work their shift, is going to make them want to park on the streets again causing the customers to have to pay and potentially not want to come back again. This would be a lose-lose situation for the downtown business owners and their customers.
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