NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Parking problems have plagued downtown Noblesville since the early 19th century, and now city leaders think they have an answer.
The downtown area has a two-hour-per-day parking limit for travelers, and that's even if they come and go. It's a running daily clock.
“If there are tournaments in the middle of the day here, people are going to get ticketed, or we will have to put a pause on everything," said Cody McClintock, who has recently been playing card games every day at a gaming shop in downtown. He badly injured his leg in a work accident and is on crutches with a walking boot. To safely park, he must walk several blocks in pain.
“I could park five to six blocks out, just so I’m not parking in that two-hour limit,” McClintock said.
Moving forward, city officials want to keep those restrictions only in the downtown square and a block in each direction. Due to the shape, city reps call it, "The Hashtag". 19 blocks surrounding the square will now become free unlimited parking. The move will allow workers to park closer to their jobs without the risk of a ticket.
“We have on-street parking only," said Mark Littler, who owns Noble Coffee. "We are lucky a lot of our employees can walk to work. They live near here. Realistically, you won’t have to walk more than a block, and you have free parking unlimited hours.”
License plate readers will take over in the city to track how long individual cars have spent time parking in town. Up until last year, police used to mark cars with chalk to show that they have been parked in downtown and to keep tabs on them.
“Tire chalking was about a 1930s technology that we kept doing until this past year," Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt said. “The license plate reader knows when a vehicle is in violation for the first time.”
Officers are instructed to give first-time offenders a free pass. Instead, they will leave a brochure explaining the new parking rules.
“It's a little bit of a friendlier approach to have your first experience in the community," Noblesville Chamber of Commerce President Bob DuBois said.
The parking meters in town will also be replaced by parking kiosks. Chief Jowitt said they can't even get parts for the coin operated meters in the United States.