No more free parking in Galveston

GALVESTON Galveston lost more than 900 parking meters during the storm, and now 100 new ones are in place awaiting activation. And these are probably like no other meters you've seen.

As the island's tourist district away from the water, the Strand has year-round foot traffic. But finding a convenient place to park can be a challenge.

"It was difficult and it's Friday," said one visitor we spoke with.

Along with so much else, Ike destroyed Galveston's downtown parking meters. Since the storm, parking has been free, but it's also been an issue for retailers in the area.

"We have employees and residents that are taking up all the spots in front of the retailers' spaces," said Bill Ross, VP of Mitchell Historic Properties. "Consequently, retailers can't have their patrons park in front of their establishments and shop."

Now, though, the nearly two years of free parking is about to come to an end. One hundred new meters are in place, preparing to be activated soon and they do everything but park your car. Solar powered, they offer Wi-Fi. You can add meter minutes by cell phone.

"Let's say you're on Post Office Street and your car's parked there on the Strand," said Ross "They're an incredible machine because they're so flexible for the user."

Parking meters may not sound exciting, but there are those who are really pumped about the new versions.

"You don't have to run and take care of this or cash or change," said visitor Trent Northrup. "Everything's right there at your fingertips. You've got the credit card. Everything's more convenient. It's the modern day."

The question is whether that excitement may disappear when the meters operate. Either pay to park or get a ticket.

Unlike in Houston, you don't have to put the receipt on the dashboard. The meters are expected to be in operation in two to three weeks.

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