Has DDA Executive Director, Margret Woodard truly researched every facet of the recent proposal to affix parking meters downtown or simply caved to business owners’ complaints? Unfortunately, the latter seems to be the case. On January 19, the Metro Spirit reported that Woodard is “backing off the plan to meter 1,000 parking spaces in downtown Augusta.” However, Woodard’s decision to scrap the plan indefinitely does not stem from focused evaluation of fact based evidence or market research. Her 180° reversal comes about from anecdotal stories forwarded by downtown business owners and citizens who maintain that the DDA should enforce the current two-hour parking limit.
What are they saying?
Foremost, Woodard is correct in considering the opinions of the great citizens of Augusta. Those concerns should rest high on her master research list. However, all intangible data must be weighed against thorough observational data, market research, and scientific polls to make an informed decision. This type of research has not transpired. In fact, Woodard has based her choice on business owners’ claims that the DDA has not addressed employee parking thoroughly coupled with their customers’ negative views about parking meters. Additionally, Woodard backs her judgment on opinions from citizens who support enforcement above meters. Visitors to the DDA’s Website may voice their comments or opinions about the parking meter plan. This approach is a good way to gather public view; however, this site provides levels of anonymity, which leads to subjectivity. Furthermore, an APB (Augusta Political Buzz) survey and parking analysis conducted on January 7, although unscientific, reveals findings contradictory to Woodard’s conclusion.
Woodard now says…
Woodard backed off her insistence for parking meters when downtown merchants armed with customer and employee complaints confronted her in a meeting of the Downtown Augusta Alliance. Woodard now says that the DDA will capitulate to merchant and public opinion and re-evaluate enforcement ordinances. However, she further implies that enforcement will require additional city resources and sophisticated monitoring equipment to study traffic patterns downtown.
Although Woodard shows hastiness in her decision-making, her dedication to public opinion is just. However, if she can justify spending taxpayer money on monitoring equipment, why not enforce the two hour parking limit by hiring an enforcement staff? In addition, the DDA has conducted some of its homework concerning parking meter implementation in other metropolitan areas. Furthermore, it has addressed employee parking. Both of these items grace the DDA’s FAQ section of its Website. Woodard has expressed her intensions of using parking meter revenue to beautify the downtown area. These projects would necessarily generate more public interest to downtown Augusta in the form of new businesses and customers alike. So what is the indignation truly about? Perhaps the only people who stand to lose the most on Woodard’s decision are the late night vandals who were counting on the extra revenue!
Make your editorial submissions by selecting the “Link Suggestions & Editorial Submissions” link on the right side of this page. Please include your name and location with all submissions ex. (Jane Q. Public, Augusta, GA).
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, then please sign up for e-mail alerts by selecting the “Subscribe” button on the upper, middle portion of this page. You will receive notification whenever I publish new articles about Augusta and surrounding areas.
I encourage all your comments and they are always welcome! I will answer all questions or concerns. All you need to do is post them in the section provided below this article.