I want to share a quick story about a little town similar to ours and how they successfully attracted visitors.
This little town has one Main St with a few offshoots, and they wanted it to grow. What they did was, they wired the entire area for free WiFi to encourage people to sit in their coffee bars and restaurants and relax with their laptops. They also made parking entirely FREE. They built several 3 story parking garages, as well as street parking, and added a minuscule local retail tax of 1/4 percent to pay for it all.
I keep hearing how Vancouver is dealing with it's parking problems...they seem to think they need to make XX number of dollars per space per year, thus they have limited the building of new parking spaces, and raised the prices on the spaces they already have. The result has been that fewer people are visiting downtown due to the prices to park and utter frustrations with finding convenient places to do so. I hear the complaints daily. The current strategy is counter intuitive and failing our little city.
I suggest we go entirely in the opposite direction, like the little town above. Build more parking, make it free, and add a smidgeon of a local retail tax to cover it all.
This community engagement opportunity has ended.