Evanston’s Parking Committee voted Wednesday to recommend that the City Council adopt some form of free parking offer during the holiday shopping season.

The exact design of the proposal was left up to city staff to work out, but committee members suggested permitting free parking on one or two Saturdays in December and possibly on weekday evenings.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman said that current trends in retail sales “are not very pretty” in Evanston or elsewhere in the country.

“Given the economic situation, we should consider some extraordinary measures to help inspire more retail sales,” he said.

Paul Giddings of the Folkworks Gallery on Chicago Avenue said five or six businesses in the Chicago and Dempster shopping district “are hanging on by their fingertips. If they don’t have a good holiday season, I guess we’ll seem them go in the next six months.”

Committee members considered more extensive discount programs for the holiday season, but concluded they didn’t have enough information about what impact they might have on parking revenue.

The City Council’s next meeting is Dec. 8 — the only chance left to adopt such a plan before the holidays are over.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. This raises the whole question …
    Of whether the 50% increase in meter parking downtown has been worth it? Aren’t we driving people away from our downtown … at the very time when we should be inviting them in? Let’s stop nickel and diming our residents and visitors to death. Let’s work together to cultivate a downtown that attracts businesses, jobs and customers, and not make people dig into their pockets for every last avilable coin.

    Barnaby Dinges

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