RACINE — Drivers in Racine will again be able to park in metered spots for free on Saturdays in December, this time through the city’s new smartphone application.

Racine offered free parking on Saturdays last December in an effort to boost local holiday shopping. The move pleased some business owners, who said the offer may have boosted their business. Merchants have been concerned that parking meters deterred would-be consumers from visiting their shops for fears they would get a ticket for an expired meter. The city plans to offer a similar parking perk this year, now through the PassportParking smartphone application, which the city released this year.

Some details remain to be worked out, said Michael Maierle, the city’s transit and parking system manager. The plan, he said, is to utilize a feature of the application that allows merchants to validate customers’ parking. When people visit a store or restaurant during the free parking days, merchants can provide drivers with a code to plug into the smartphone application. That code will allow the driver to park in the metered spot for free, Maierle said.

The offer would apply to anywhere in the City of Racine with parking meters, he said, including Downtown, Uptown and West Racine.

The plan earned approval from the Downtown Racine Corp., a nonprofit focused on revitalizing and promoting the Downtown part of the city.

“Downtown now has better parking options than ever,” stated Kelly Kruse, executive director of Downtown Racine Corp. “This holiday, I urge you to dine, drink and shop local.”

The new system will allow the city to track just how much revenue it loses through the free parking offer, Maierle said. When the city made the offer last year, it estimated that it would miss out on about $10,000 of revenue — $8,000 from Downtown. Half of the loss was estimated to be from meter payments, and half from parking tickets.

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Reporter

Sari Lesk covers the City of Racine, Gateway and UW-Parkside. She is new to the community and moonlights as an amateur baker.

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