Westerner Park has changed its parking policies to give drivers making a brief stop at the site a break on parking.
Beginning on Wednesday, those who are just dropping someone off or making a visit of less than 30 minutes can get a refund on the $3 parking fee charged at the gates. A daily pass costs $5.
John Harms, Westerner chief executive officer, said the change was made in response to customer concerns. Some complained that they had to pay for parking just to drop off a person, including people with disabilities, at a venue.
A local tow truck company owner also complained in an email to the Advocate that drivers were being required to pay the parking fee when they were there to pick up stranded vehicles or help remove vehicles from exhibits.
Harms said the Westerner recognized there were problems and changed its policy as of Wednesday.
“We’ve taken steps to address all of the concerns.”
Those who are only stopping for a few minutes should take their receipts to the north gate, where they will be issued a refund, he said.
Fees for all parking at Westerner Park kicked in Sept. 1 following the redesign of the parking lot and the addition of 580 stalls.
Previously, major event patrons were charged a $2 fee for parking on the north side of the Centrium while patrons still parked for free on the larger southwest lot.
The money raised from parking fees will help bankroll future building projects and cover additional maintenance and snow removal costs in the expanded lot.
The changes are part of a long-term expansion plan at Westerner Park called the Gateway Project. Phase 1 involved a new administration building, which was officially unveiled earlier this month. Phase 2 was the parking lot expansion and a new gate on 49th Avenue and interior road improvements.
Phase 3 will involve the realignment of Pioneer Park and the relocation of the Chalet.