The city's Park Shop and Dine program offers free parking vouchers at nearly 30 businesses — mostly restaurants and retailers — which can be used at four city-owned parking garages.
The city's Park Shop and Dine program offers free parking vouchers at nearly 30 businesses — mostly restaurants and retailers — which can be used at four city-owned parking garages. (Courtesy Photo)

In Annapolis’ ongoing pursuit of parking solutions, the city has added seven new businesses to its Park, Shop and Dine program, which allows businesses to buy parking vouchers for customers using city garages.

The seven new businesses joining the program are: Cezanne Jewelers, Fado Irish Pub, Harry Browne’s, Marina Life, Oasis Marinas, Rasa Juice Shop and Snag-a-Slip, according to a city news release.

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The program, established in 2013, gives drivers up to four hours of parking vouchers for those who park at Noah Hillman, Gotts Court, Knighton or Park Place garages. There are 28 businesses — mostly restaurants and retailers — throughout the city now signed up for the program run by SP+, the city’s parking operator.

Half of the program members are located on West Street and Park Place, including Ram’s Head Tavern and El Toro Bravo. Another eight businesses are on Main Street, such as Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs and The Clay Bakers; four on Maryland Avenue and State Circle; and two at Market Place and Dock Street.

The company provides vouchers to businesses in packs of 100 for 55 cents per voucher, said SP+’s Annapolis parking manager Kevin Warntz.

John Baghdadlian, owner of Cezanne Jewelers on Maryland Avenue, received his parking vouchers from the program about a week ago.

He has started informing customers of the program but hadn’t handed any out yet because many of Cezanne’s customers are elderly and prefer to park on the street near the jeweler rather than the garages, Baghdadlian said.

“The program is worth a shot,” he said. “I think anything is worth trying out at this point.”

Melanie Murphy, owner of Annapolis Pottery, said her business has participated in the program for years but only recently has it been advertised to customers.

“It’s going to take time” for people to learn about the program, Murphy said, but those who do know about it appreciate the free parking.

Several visitors who parked at Hillman garage Wednesday hadn’t heard about the program but were intrigued by the opportunity for free parking.

Austin Krablin, a Glen Burnie resident, said he and his wife Melanie often park at Hillman because it’s close to downtown. They have never used the voucher program.

“I don’t really care about the cost,” Krablin said. “I care about convenience and proximity.”

SP+ is designing signs to be placed at the four garages that will advertise the businesses that offer vouchers, Warntz said.

SP+ employees have been visiting local businesses to spread the word, he said, handing out flyers and stickers that owners can place in their windows to advertise the program.

“It only stands to benefit the patrons of that business,” Warntz said. “(Free parking) could be the difference between them coming back or not.”

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Gina Tjarks, a resident of Annapolis for more than 25 years, said she used the voucher program to park downtown before she moved out of the area more than a year ago.

While the reduced cost is a good way to attract visitors, “It would be nice to see more parking, but I don’t know how you do that,” she said.

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