Say goodbye to free parking in downtown El Paso on Saturdays.
A few years ago, downtown El Paso stores were struggling for shoppers. That is why City Council members decided to offer the free parking. The aim was to draw more people to downtown El Paso.
But according to Rep. Cortney Niland, business owners are now asking for more downtown revitalization.
"The retailers and the stakeholders, they are the ones saying we have the demand. Now we want to make the experience go a little further. Can you help us with some infrastructure enhancements to even improve that shopping experience?" said Niland.
Today, El Paso City Council moved forward with a funding plan for the Sun City Lights revitalization initiative. The funding will come from parking meter fees generated on Saturdays. Parking fees were previously waived on Saturdays but now the fees will be put back in place and the revenue will then be reinvested in the downtown community.
The first Sun City Lights project to be funded will be the Paseo de las Luces corridor -- South El Paso Street-- in downtown El Paso. The Sun City Lights initiative combines public art, urban design and neighborhood revitalization strategies, all aimed at revamping the city's iconic corridors and creating new economic development opportunities.
"If you have been to Market Street in San Antonio you see that string lighting that we use in San Jacinto Plaza. There is kind of an awning that shows you are entering into Paseo de las Luces. We want to do some improved street trees. We want to do some improved striping so if you want to shut the street down for, like, a festival, you could put food trucks maybe down the middle," said Rep. Niland.
Tanny Bert is a member of the Central Business Association and spoke at the City Council meeting in favor of the change.
"Let us finally put lights on the trees and access once and for all bienvenidos to El Paso. Let us let the people from Juarez know we really care, not just about their money, but about their presence," said Bert.
Today’s recommendation and decision comes after numerous months of work and collaboration with downtown business leaders.
Saturday parking fees will be reestablished in the coming weeks, a definite date will be announced by the end of the month.