By Carey Restino
Come summer, it can be challenging enough to find parking for a Subaru in Homer’s bustling, tourist-filled downtown area, let alone room to squeeze in an RV.
So this summer, community planners decided to give RV drivers space — space to park, that is. Planning sessions in recent years identified the need for RV drivers to have space to park in the downtown and Old Town areas to make it easier for those driving these larger vehicles to access Homer’s center.
“This first year is really to see if this is something that visitors appreciate,” said Katie Koester, community and economic development coordinator for the city of Homer, who helped organize the effort with the Economic Development Commission. “If we get even a few dozen more visitors, that’s more money spent here locally.”
The idea is simple — find a place where RV drivers can park and either walk or take a cab or trolley into town. Two parking areas were identified — the parking area by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and the parking area at the west side of Pioneer Avenue near the Homer Veterinary Clinic and across from the Homer Council on the Arts. The Pioneer Street lot was meant for visitors looking to explore Pioneer Avenue, while the Chamber’s lot was meant for those heading to Old Town off Bunnell Avenue.
Signs went up last weekend at the two lots, advertising that parking was available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. Overnight stays are prohibited, and Koester said organizers will be watching closely to see if littering or other factors become an issue.
“This year, we wanted to see how things went,” she said.
If the program works well, planners say they hope to find a parking spot on the east side of Pioneer Avenue as well.
The parking areas are not intended to compete with businesses offering overnight services for RV drivers, Koester said, but rather to help encourage RV drivers to visit areas of town other than the Homer Spit, where many year-round businesses hang their shingles.
“Ideally, we’re hoping to serve someone who wants to come and spend a few hours in downtown and see what downtown and Old Town have to offer.
The parking areas are identified on this year’s Homer map, which is provided for free around town, and local businesses are encouraged to promote the parking locations as well.
The cost to the city, which approved the seasonal day-use parking last winter, was $750 for signage, as well as staff time.
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