ST. CLOUD -- In an effort to get long-term parkers off the streets and into the ramps, there is a pilot parking system going into effect on Tuesday, June 1st.

Parking will be free in the five downtown ramps starting at 5:00 p.m. during the week, and all weekend long. However, you will have to pay to park on the street all night and all weekend.

No on-street parking is allowed from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. for regular maintenance like street sweeping and snow removal.

Public Services Director Tracy Hodel says this trial program is based on feedback from downtown business owners.

The inability to have that turnover at those convenient premium on-street locations right next to their businesses, and it seems like with the free many of those spaces were being used up by employees and business owners or those just using it for free long-term parking instead of having it for customers.

Hodel says you can also park for free for the first 60 minutes in all ramps if you use the ParkMobile app.

We're actually seeing a larger increase of people using that ParkMobile app versus people using the pay stations.  I think it's because ParkMobile is so used, like in Minneapolis and at the MSP Airport, you already have it on your phone.

There are over 2,000 parking spaces available in the five downtown St. Cloud parking ramps.

Some new incentives for downtown employees, a 10 percent discount on an annual permit, and both the Swan and Clover lots are being converted from A permits to C permits lowering their cost from $134 plus tax per quarter to $78 plus tax per quarter.

Another new feature coming to downtown will be 10 new curbside pickup locations, which all downtown businesses will be able to use for their customers.

This pilot parking system will be in place for the rest of the year.   In order for these changes to become permanent, it would require a public hearing in front of the city council and a change to the city's ordinance.

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