Originally published Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 12:03p.m.

It’s been a consistent message coming out of Jerome for at least 10 years now.

The town’s infrastructure is badly outdated and in need of constant repair. Weekend traffic is a mess in Jerome; often with more cars than there are places to park.

Those issues once again will be central to a discussion March 1 when Jerome residents will meet to share their feelings about implementing paid parking kiosks in Jerome.

It’s doubtful this meeting will reveal anything we haven’t already heard before. See, paid parking is hardly a new idea in Jerome. It’s kind of like building a new city hall in Cottonwood. It’s an idea that is talked about a lot, but nothing ever comes of it. A review of town council meeting minutes shows the issue has been discussed and debated in the community going back to at least 2009.

In fact, during an August 2009 council meeting it was projected that paid parking in the town’s commercial district would generate $278,743 annually and three parking kiosks would pay for themselves in a matter of months.

The 2009 plan was based on proposed Ordinance 360 that would enforce parking fees in the town’s commercial district only, and it would be based on the use of pay stations at a rate of $2 per day.

During the 2009 discussion, Fire Chief Rusty Blair said the parking fees would be in place from near the fire station at Grapes Restaurant down Main Street to the Flatiron and also would include both of the lower parking lots and the parking area known as the 300-Foot Level.

It would seem the first question that should be asked during this week’s meeting on paid parking in Jerome would be to what degree the town needs to re-invent the wheel on this issue. The homework on this one already has been done.

As for the infrastructure upgrades needed in Jerome – which new Mayor Alex Barber referred to as “antique” in a recent verdenews.com podcast -- a new infusion of at least a quarter-million dollars a year would be a big help in addressing those needs. And, it certainly bears emphasis, this new revenue flow would come from the thousands of tourists who visit the mountainside community every year.

Past meetings on this issue have seen local residents more than once object to paid parking in Jerome because they don’t want to see their community “become another Sedona.”

Sorry, but in many ways, on a much smaller scale, you already are.

Like Sedona, Jerome is an irresistible magnet for tourists.

Like Sedona, Jerome typically has more cars looking for a place to park on weekends than it has places for them to park.

Like Sedona, Jerome is challenged by geology when trying to find a fix to its infrastructure needs.

The saving grace for Jerome is that their “Sedona” problems are on a much smaller scale than those confronting Sedona.

There is an obvious answer to the challenges facing Jerome and it’s been staring the town in the face for at least 10 years now.

It’s time for Jerome to take a bold step forward on the issue of paid parking in the town and quit kicking this can down the road.

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