If you have been up to Thayer Street within the past few months you probably have noticed a series of new parking meters being installed on the roadway. These new meters are part of an effort to raise monies for the city that have been wildly unpopular.
There are several issues that are coming up for patrons as they try to visit the stores. First, the meter system has proven to be confusing and not as user-friendly as hoped. Second, the maximum time limit for parking is in fact far too short for anyone who wants to go out to eat at Andrea’s Restaurant, have a few drinks at the bars, or see a movie at the Avon.
And that in turn leads to the third problem. The meters, which were billed by the city as a way to bring in more customers, are in reality chasing away business. Storefronts have been vacated and left that way for spans of time that have not been seen before. Grosses are down for businesses. One of the longest-lasting Providence shopping centers in its history which has brought in a consistent line of high-spending clientele is effectively being given a slow and painful death sentence.
Richard Dulgarian is the owner of several properties on College Hill and the Avon Theater with his brother Kenny. His family has been doing business on the street for decades and has started this petition online calling for the removal of the parking meters. He sat down for an interview with me and explained his consternation.
“First they did one street, then another street, then they came up with parking pay stations. It’s happening over the last year, I think, and every time one section goes in, it was affecting my business, it would go down a little bit. You know, it’s like peeling off a band-aid one little bit at a time, you keep thinking that was the last tug,” he says.
“It doesn’t make it pleasant. Next time you’re thinking of coming here, he’s going to remember parking meters didn’t work, he had to find a merchant to help him out, and he’s going to go somewhere else. These things are not friendly and our business has gone down. Not just ours, other businesses on the street, they’re all reporting their grosses are off up to 40%, some more, and how can you sustain that? We’re seeing vacancies like we’ve never seen before. I’ve been on the street forty years and, I’m not saying a business never went out of business, but within a couple of days something took its place. Now we’ve got eleven empty storefronts, last time I checked, and no one is coming in.”
“This administration has destroyed in a year what it took 50-70 years to build up!”