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Peak week parking problems

Peak+week+parking+problems

It is finally fall, the leaves have turned, pumpkin spice flavors are out and pumpkin patches are blooming. Fall brings a lot of tourists to Boone, causing businesses to boom. 

According to a study prepared for Visit North Carolina by Tourism Economics, Watauga County brought in over $500 million just from tourists in 2022. 

Around the third week of October is the time of year when Boone gets a lot of tourists because of the hiking conditions, sightseeing for the change of the leaves, festivals and other activities. This is often known as peak week. 

The increase in tourism on top of the regular traffic in downtown Boone can cause more limited parking for the visitors.

“It is definitely very difficult to find somewhere to park and I feel like it detracts people from being in this area when it’s busy,” said Olivia Cierska, employee at Alumni Hall.

Most businesses in downtown Boone don’t have their own parking lots for customers, so they end up having to use public street parking. Some businesses , like outdoors store Footsloggers, have their own parking lots for customers, but visitors and locals take advantage of that.

“We have our own parking lot and we always allow our customers to park there, but it does get kind of tricky anytime it’s busy up here because a lot of people will park there and go to other shops or walk around downtown,” said Mackenzie Hall, a key holder at Footsloggers. “We want people to be able to walk around downtown, but at the same time we need space for our own customers here.”

Because of the lack of parking, businesses with parking lots have to enforce towing more strictly to make room for their own customers.

“We don’t ever want to be the ones to call and say ‘Come tow somebody,’ so we have an agreement with a local towing company and do their rounds and tow as needed,” said Kendra Sink, the general manager at the Mast General Store.

Businesses also have to find places for their staff to park. Several of the businesses on King Street do have some parking available for their staff, but it is usually not enough.

The SouthEnd Brewing Co. has four parking spaces and struggles to have enough parking for staff and patrons. 

“It has been really nice to use the ASU lot after 5, but now it’s changing so that is going to be a frustration for our staff, and honestly our visitors,” Megan Kevorki, owner of SouthEnd Brewing Co. said. “We encourage our staff to carpool, walk or take the bus. We are lucky enough to have at least four spaces for our staff but that only goes so far when you have 13-15 people on for a busy game day.”

Along with business parking, downtown Boone also has metered public parking for visitors. Parking spaces are limited to  2 hours Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for $1 an hour. Metered parking is free after 5 p.m. and on Sundays. There are also multi-hour parking kiosks visitors can use as well. If visitors don’t move their car in time they can get a ticket and depending where they park, they can also get towed.

App State also allows visitors to use on-campus parking after 7 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends, except on football game days.

There have been some problems between App State and downtown Boone because students will use some of the businesses parking when they go to class taking away space from the visitors. 

“The hard thing right now is when students come and park in those spaces for them to go to class, they are violating what those parking places are for, but they are also taking it away from the customers, and so customers think all the businesses are full because the parking spaces are full, but it’s not full it is just full of students,” Sink said.

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About the Contributor
Sierra Fridinger, Reporter
Sierra Fridinger (she/her/hers) is a freshman public relations major with a minor in digital marketing from Greensboro, NC. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
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