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It will soon be more expensive to park in downtown Stillwater

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Stillwater officials are gearing up to add additional parking fees in the downtown area as a way to cover increasing upkeep costs – but the potential repercussions have local business owners worried.

The new charges would only apply for the non-winter tourism season, which runs from May 1 through October 31, the Stillwater Current says.

Currently, only two parking lots charge during that time, and both are by the river. Lot 1 is $5 a day, while lot 2 is $3 a day. Parking lots 3 to 11 are currently free, though most are limited to three or four hours.

The new plan would make all 11 lots pay-to-park.

And that has businesses in the area concerned.

The effect on local shops

Two shop owners told the Pioneer Press they worried about the image tourists will have of Stillwater if they suddenly have to pay to park.

And the big questions: If people have to pay for parking, are they less likely to come to downtown Stillwater to shop? Or, less likely to buy from those stores if they do come down?

The possibility of that answer being "Yes" is what really gnaws at the local business owners, KSTP reports.

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There are some possible workarounds.

Residents would be eligible for free parking, by buying an annual pass for a "nominal" fee, the Stillwater Gazette says.

And while the initial proposal said a flat, $5-a-day fee would generate the amount of revenue needed for upkeep, the city council is hoping for a more flexible option. The worry is that a single price would discourage people from taking a quick lunch trip during the week, or stopping in for coffee, the Gazette reports.

The city council approved making the additional lots pay-to-park, but the final prices have yet to be determined.

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