LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - When you hear the words "parking downtown" many people associate that with stress and frustration. The number of spaces available, free or paid, seems to be limited to some residents and visitors. But is it really as much of a problem as some make it out to be?
The main issue when it comes to parking downtown deals with inconveniences. Most people would prefer to park right next to their destination; when in reality, that's rarely an option.
Public Parking. Free parking. 2 hour and 1 hour parking. There are plenty of signs downtown telling you where and how long you can park in certain areas.
"Really if you look at all the things that are going on down here, and the parking that's available within two or three blocks, it's really pretty good and often free," says Paul Austin, a downtown employee.
Although he hears people talk about parking problems, Austin thinks they're overreacting.
"I think for folks to be able to park in what's a pretty cool metropolitan area down here, that's developed over the last 15 years into this destination place, and to have to walk 3 or 4 blocks and pay 5 dollars, not a bad deal, I'd say," Austin explains.
There are actually more than 2,000 parking spots available to the public in the downtown area. Running east to west, between Main Street and Kumpuris, and north to south from 4th Street to the River Market.
There are 305 paid parking spaces along the street and 1,236 spaces available in paid parking decks. There are also 503 free parking spots available along the street.
Despite this, Chris Beck says he adjusts his schedule to avoid the lunch rush.
"You have to get here, we leave early for lunch so we can get a decent parking spot," says Beck.
Johnny Cook has worked at Boulevard Bread for 3 years.
"It's really, really difficult for the most part to find parking on the road. But it would be a lot better if that place, the parking lot behind here, would be free because nobody really wants to pay 5 dollars to park down here," Cook says.
But he doesn't think it hurts business.
"I've not really heard people complain much about the parking. You get a lot of tourists down here, so they're kind of used to paying for parking. Your regular customers, they're a little more put out by it," adds Cook.
Barry Craiglow also works downtown.
"We use the public parking. It's the same parking that the folks that come down for lunch would want to use. Outside of that, if you have to leave and try and get another parking spot, you park on the street and you just have to move your car every two hours," Craiglow says.
Today's THV reached out to city planners to talk about how they are parking congestion in the area. They were too busy to comment.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau is responsible for parking along the River Market area. Unfortunately, their staff is out of town and was unavailable for an interview as well.