WINCHESTER — Downtown Winchester’s free parking pass is about to expire.
Starting Monday, the Winchester Parking Authority will resume the enforcement of parking meters that it suspended two months ago in an attempt to help downtown businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the coronavirus threat is far from over, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s first phase of the state’s reopening is underway, giving the go-ahead to many retail shops, restaurants and offices to resume partial or full operations.
Authority Chairman Dick Helm announced in mid-March that downtown’s metered parking enforcement would be temporarily suspended “to get something going down there,” a reference to the sharp decline in sales reported by Old Town stores and restaurants.
With at least some of those businesses getting back on track following the May 15 implementation of Northam’s Phase I virus recovery process, the Parking Authority’s two enforcement officers will once again be on the lookout for meter violations.
Winchester Facilities Maintenance and Parking Division Manager Corey MacKnight said in a media release that “it’s important to keep the spaces turning over throughout the day to ensure street and lot parking options are available for Old Town customers and visitors. The only way to do that is through enforcement.”
The use of loading zones and handicap spaces have been, and will continue to be, monitored and enforced, the release states.
Winchester charges 50 to 75 cents for one hour of metered parking. The meters, located throughout downtown, are monitored from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, but free parking is allowed on weekends and designated holidays. Meter costs can be paid with coins or through the Parkmobile app, which adds a 45-cent service fee to the parking costs.
Winchester also operates four downtown autoparks for short- or long-term parking. The garages charge 50 cents per hour, and monthly leases are available for Old Town residents and employees.