The city's Parking Committee voted Friday to recommend to the City Council that the Key Parking Lot be opened for free parking for a 120-day trial period.
Some committee members said they hope free parking on the lot -- located between City Hall and East Middle School -- will draw parking congestion away from downtown streets and adjacentresidential areas.
But committee member Samuel Greenholtz, who's also a City Councilmember, questioned whether people would bypass free downtown parkingto park free farther away.
"Right now, everything's free," he said. "You're going to go to the closest free that there is."
The idea of making the Key lot free came to the committee from Police Chief Sam R. Leppo, who has been working with the committee.
Leppo said his department would track parking on the lot through June 30 to see what effect free parking would have on downtown parking.
The five-member committee has been meeting to generate ideas to help relieve parking problems in the city.
The committee also voted Friday not to recommend that Willis Street be designated for a residential-parking permit program.
Recommendations of the committee must receive the approval or rejection of the City Council.