I was parking my car last week along Ninth Street in downtown Noblesville, just north of the Hamilton County Courthouse Square, when I watched two women trying to figure out how to use the new parking kiosk in the City-owned Orange lot.
One woman was relaying a license plate number to the other woman to input at the parking meter. Then I could hear them say that their dollar in change for four hours would be sufficient time for them to eat lunch and visit some downtown shops.
But I didn’t realize that they weren’t parked in the Orange lot until they’d already inserted their quarters into the kiosk. Their car was actually parallel parked along the street just a few vehicles behind mine. But since they didn’t see any parking signs along Ninth Street north of Logan Street, they went inside a nearby merchants’ shop and received information that street parking was only unlimited farther north on Ninth Street.
So they saw the parking kiosk in the Orange lot facing Ninth Street and put in their coins.
I can see how drivers could be confused about the new parking rules in downtown Noblesville. I looked around after I got out of my car and saw no parking signs informing me that I was parked in a free two-hour zone.
I only know about the new parking ordinance because I’ve written about it, I’ve seen it on the City’s website and I have a downtown parking map. But for visitors, such as these two women who came to eat and shop from Carmel, the parking rules that went into effect 18 days ago aren’t so clear.
Granted, there is beautiful signage on stylish banners high in the air on the newly painted lovely black light poles around the Square. But that signage is not at eye level directly in front of the parking spaces where people’s eyes are normally trained to look for Indiana’s typical red-and-white or green-and-white traffic regulation signs that display rules that drivers must obey. The only green-and-white signs now in the two-hour free parking zone are 20-Minute Parking “Loading and Unloading Only” signs for select spaces about 500 feet from downtown businesses on the Square.
I talked to merchants, who have daily witnessed downtown visitors confused about the new parking ordinance, not only misunderstanding where they can park for two hours for free but also trying to comprehend the “two consecutive hours” parking rules.
In the new two-hour free parking zone -- in a “hashtag” or “Tic-tac-toe” area of the Courthouse Square -- time accumulates wherever you’re parked in the zone, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., which is a 12-block downtown area. The free parking zone is on Logan and Conner streets, from 10th Street to Eighth Street, and on Eighth and Ninth streets, from Clinton Street to Maple Avenue. There is also free parking all day less than 500 feet from every downtown business.
I didn’t have a chance to catch up with the women who were parking their car, to let them know that if they parked longer than two hours that they might get a parking ticket on that day. And that they might have to explain that they did pay for parking although it wasn’t for their parking space.
But I didn’t worry too much. According to the City, first-time parking-ticket offenders are given a warning with information about available parking, rather than a ticket. On the second offense, a parking ticket is $20.
It may take some time for visitors as well as local citizens to figure out the new parking but eventually the changes should make parking downtown easier.
For more information, visit www.cityofnoblesville.org/parking. You can also download the ParkMobile app on your phone, through the Apple App store and Google Play.
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com. Feel free to drop us a line if you have an opinion that you would like to share about the parking.