Sarasota parking meters go live Tuesday morning

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Paid-parking will take effect around St. Armands Circle starting Tuesday.

City officials said the parking meters for on-street parking will turn on at 9 a.m. and the parking garage will be officially open for use.

Since last year, city leaders had been circling around the idea of paid parking, after several business owners and visitors expressed it was too congested and nearly impossibly to find a parking spot.

"So many evenings I come here and people just circle and circle for parking spaces," said Gail Welch, who lives in Sarasota.

A parking review conducted in 2013 determined 300-600 parking spaces were needed in the area.

In response, the city built a $15-million parking garage, which includes 484 parking spots, five electric-vehicle charging stations, and bicycle storage.

According to city officials, all the money collected from the parking program will go toward paying the St. Armands parking garage.

Garage parking is $0.50 per hour and on-street parking can range from $0.75 to $1.50.

"It's nothing really when you compare it to other cities it really is nothing," said Welch.

Some businesses said they were excited about the change.

"We're pretty excited I think it's going to be great, it gets so busy here during seasons, so I think our customers will be really happy that there is extra spaces for them to park," said Hollie Misztak, who works for Shore.

However, some see it as a turn-off.

"We've really enjoyed the free parking, and I think it will make it more of a burden to shop here, so we don't really like it," said James Fredrickson and his wife who are visiting from Chicago.

Despite the mixed reviews, city leaders said it is the only way to address congestion in one of Sarasota's hot spots.

They encourage everyone to download the ParkingMobileApp before they head to St. Armands Circle.

For those who would rather not pay for parking, city officials said there are about 200 free parking spots within walking distance.