The Waterfront Development Corp. board of directors expect to approve rates for paid event parking at Waterfront Park in August and plan to start charging a daily parking fee at one of its lots.
WDC’s president, David Karem, who oversees the management of 85-acre Waterfront Park along with the board, told Louisville Metro Council earlier this month that the park was facing a $200,000 budget shortfall because of pulled state funding.
The board was contemplating instituting a $3 daily parking fee at its nine lots to cover the budget gap but held off at the behest of Mayor Greg Fischer, and Louisville Metro Council approved a one-time allocation to WDC to balance its budget.
However, the fix is temporary as the organization will face a similar shortfall the following year if state funding isn’t restored, so WDC leaders have been looking into charging people to park in one of its nine lots during special events.
Karem said he met with PARC officials and Paul Ford, president of the privately owned Riverside Parking, to get advice on how it could implement event-only parking.
“Waterfront Park doesn’t contain — thank God — one large big black parking lot,” Karem said, but it does present an enforcement challenge.
WDC will have to install pay machines at each of its parking lots that allow drivers to pay at the machine or use their phone, according to a report presented to the board Wednesday afternoon. Hiring people to patrol the parking lots during events would be cost-prohibitive, the report states.
Riverside Parking will manage paid parking operations on behalf of WDC, Karem said, and the organization is relying on Ford’s expertise when implementing parking fees and setting rates.
“We would like to move forward on this,” he said.
The board did not approve a rate or fee scale but is expected to vote on it in August. WDC could charge a single rate for each event, adopt a sliding cost scale that would charge more for more popular events, or charge more in lots that are closer to an event site within the park, the report states.
A couple of board members noted that some parking lots charge $10 or more depending on the event. The report mentions a possible $6 to $7 charge.
Karem declined to say what the charge could be. “I think it’s going to depend on the event,” he said.
The organization still has to define what qualifies as an event during which they would charge for parking, but according to the report, it will no only include events at Waterfront Park but also those Slugger Field and the KFC Yum! Center.
A WDC board member, Chris Jones, said the group needed to work quickly to define special event to “avoid the perception with all events are special events.”
Charity walks and similar events likely will not be classified as special events.
There is one lot where WDC will charge people to park both during events and on a daily basis — its green lot at North Preston Street and River Road. The lot, near Slugger Field, is often filled but not with park-goers.
“Regularly, that lot is used for downtown users who park in that lot and walk to work,” Karem said, adding that a daily fee is needed to discourage people from taking advantage of the parking lot, which currently is free. “It’s the only way you are going to capture revenue from that one, and you will capture revenue on a daily basis.”
No rate has been approved for that lot either, but board members indicated a desire to set a fee and start charging for parking as soon as possible.