Downtown Dunedin parking now free

After years of complaints from business owners and visitors, Dunedin city commissioners voted to make downtown parking free. 

"Everyone was bitter about it," said Dion Falzon, a local restaurant owner. "And it really was a big deal."

The paid parking dilemma started three years ago when meters were installed.

Back then, city officials said the meters would help with turnover and prevent drivers from hogging a spot for an indefinite amount of time. They also created a separate revenue stream to pay for a public garage.

But the criticism against the meters grew throughout the years until city commissioners decided to do away with the program at a city meeting August 23.

"It was just really tough to accept that you have to pay for parking," said Falzon.

Visitors said it's a relief.

"When it's free parking you're not rushed to come in and out," said Danielle Clark, who was visiting from New Jersey, "you can stay and relax."