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Downtown Ft. Myers business owners want city to know they aren't happy with parking changes

New pay station in downtown fort myers
Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-14 19:19:25-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It's been a week since Fox 4 first told you about the changes to the downtown Fort Myers parking.

Now business owners are speaking out and they want the city of Fort Myers to know they aren't pleased with the changes.

Fox 4' Briana Brownleemet with multiple business owners including Peter Martin, the owner of ProFiles nail salon. His business sits right in front of one of the two hour parking zones.

"Horrible drop in business we are down at least 20 to 30 percent already," Martin said.

He said it's because the city is now charging people to pay for two hour parking.

"And they [customers] are voicing when they come in, 'I wont be back, I'm not going to try and find a parking space and then negotiate with a machine," Martin said.

The machine he's talking about are the 32 new pay stations that were installed to replace the parking meters.

New parking system in downtown Fort Myers

Whitney Hackett owns two businesses downtown, including Curio Downtown. She is also not pleased with the changes.

"Two ladies came into my shop and said they had to get up from dinner to move their car," Hackett said.

In previous reports, the city has said multiple times the new parking strategy was to help business owners. However many business that are lined down the stretch of the River District said it's doing the exact opposite, especially while they try to rebuild after Hurricane Ian.

"It was really slow this summer and just when we are on the verge of having a great holiday season and really looking forward to a busy season— then they throw this curve ball at us," Hackett said.

"Being old I hate to have to log into an app signing in and putting my credit card in, the system is horrible," Martin said.

Another issue these business owners have is that they feel the city didn't communicate with them or even ask them how they would feel about the change.

The city's spokeswoman Liz Bello-Matthews responded that these business owners should have been included and she will be reaching out to ensure they are being properly communicated with.