KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Upcoming changes to parking in the River Market have sparked frustration.  

Starting in mid-May, people will have to pay up to $10 for more than 2 hours of parking in the lots on weekends. Parking will be $5 for less than two hours.

Right now, parking is free on the weekend and $1 an hour from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week.

“My daddy always told me if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Mark Fry, a City Market vendor. “Well, they’re trying to fix something that isn’t broke.”

For decades, Fry has sold his tomatoes at the City Market on weekends. Now he fears he’ll lose some longtime customers because of the parking upgrade.

“I’ve talked to some of my customers, and they’re outraged, too, and they basically said we’ll go to a different market,” Fry said.

The city said street parking in most spots will still be free.

It also said the change is part of several upgrades coming to the parking program, including:

  1. Shifting parking policies to be user-dependent starting with new pricing and management strategies in the River Market and along the KC Streetcar line.
  2. Upgrading meter technology to be more user-friendly, including credit cards and more apps.  
  3. Relocating, removing and/or adding parking meters based on data to meet the unique demands of areas.  
  4. Establishing an administration system for parking tickets and non-moving violations.

“A professionally managed, dynamic, parking system achieves multiple city goals – safety, livability, job creation, economic growth, infrastructure improvements, a balanced transportation system, and helps the environment,” said Parking Program Manager Matthew Muckenthaler.

“Park KC is a financially sound approach to parking management— deploying innovative systems and creating sustainable revenue that can be reinvested into maintaining and building the infrastructure of our transportation system.”

But some City Market vendors are more concerned with convenience for customers and said they’re upset the decision was made without their feedback.

“My business drops off, what’s the use of coming down here?” said Sany Wieche, owner of Sandman Gardens. “Some of them said they won’t come down. If they have to pay that, they’ll go to the grocery store.”

City Market leaders said there are two lots where parking is free during the week and on weekends, including one at East 7th and Main streets, where people can hop on the streetcar for free.

“People who are upset about paid parking are the same folks that are upset about lack of parking when its free, so you can’t win that one,” said Sue Patterson, director of marketing for the City Market.

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