Grand Avenue businesses are inviting St. Paul officials, including the mayor, to a community meeting they're hosting this weekend on the controversial proposal to install parking meters on the popular shopping street.
The meeting, sponsored by the Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA), will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Dixie's on Grand, 695 Grand Av., GABA executive director Jon Perrone said Monday.
A community meeting held on the issue last week drew nearly 200 people, most of whom booed and hissed city officials who came to explain the parking meter plan.
The plan, introduced by Mayor Chris Coleman in his 2016 budget proposal, will be voted on this month by the City Council. If approved, 525 metered spaces would be installed on Grand next spring, which city officials say would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the city's general fund and increase turnover of parking spots.
Grand Avenue also would serve as a pilot program that officials could use to make decisions about installing meters on other commercial strips outside downtown.
The plan is opposed by many businesses and nearby residents, who say that meters will discourage shoppers and push more cars into the surrounding neighborhoods.
They're also unhappy that city officials chose Grand for parking meters without seeking community input. The avenue currently has parking restrictions indicated by signs.
Coleman's proposal to install meters on Grand and also extend downtown parking meter hours into the evenings would raise $1.6 million for the city's 2016 budget.
After next year, Grand Avenue meters would bring in an estimated $800,000 annually. It would cost about $730,000 to install the pay stations and signs.
An online petition to Coleman to stop parking meters on Grand Avenue, posted on Change.org, had drawn more than 2,300 signatures by Monday afternoon.
The council vote is expected Oct. 14 or Oct. 21.