A couple of weeks ago I braved the cold February winds to see 2016’s Art Sled Derby at Elizabeth Park. I was joined by The Farmer, and one of his friends so we decided to get lunch in Hartford afterward. We drove over to Vaughan’s and circled the block a couple of times looking for parking. All of the “open” spots we saw had hoods over the meters, and so we eventually caved and pulled into the Asylum Street Parking Lot.
The Farmer and his friend are from Western Mass. When we go out for the day or night up there, it’s usually in Northampton. More often than not, we end up in the E.J. Gare parking garage and it never costs more than a few dollars to park for the day/night. Why? Because the first hour is free and every hour after that is 50 cents. So, imagine our surprise when, after just 2 hours and 5 minutes at our lunch, we were charged $15 to get out of the parking lot.
That. Is. Ridiculous.
I’ve long had a problem with Hartford’s parking situation. I’ve done everything from park in East Hartford and walk over the bridge, to park in the Goodwin Hotel’s parking garage and leave after it closed for the night (the doors would open when you pulled up but no one was there to take your money ) to avoid paying through the nose just to visit the city for a few hours. I doubt if Mayor Luke Bronin is reading this, but if he is, I hope he takes one thing away from it: If you want people to come into Hartford and spend money, you need to make it easy and affordable for them to park (or get there via public transportation). There is not, frankly, enough street parking in downtown, but I imagine the city would like to see people in lots and garages anyway. But something needs to be done about the exorbitant pricing in the lots. I had the Farmhouse Pie for my lunch that day. It costs $13. It cost us more to park that afternoon (in an almost totally empty lot) than it did to buy a meal (that I took half of home, and ate for two more meals).
That is outrageous and it’s pretty awful planning! When we left Elizabeth Park it would have been just as easy for us to head into West Hartford where parking costs 75 cents for half an hour, and maxes out at $7. But we wanted to eat in Hartford… next time we might reconsider if something isn’t done to make parking less of a burden. That was $15 we could have spent at another business that actually provides decent jobs, but instead we fed it into an unmanned machine. And next time I am deciding where to spend the day, this will factor into my decision.