Mystic — The Mystic Arts Center is no longer using a system where patrons had to swipe a credit card to get access to its parking lot that was unpopular with merchants and customers.
The system had been implemented in August to the only public parking lot in downtown Mystic. Merchants said it was hurting business as customers did not want to swipe their credit cards to gain access to the lot.
Instead, parkers will be given a ticket when entering and can pay by credit or debit card when leaving. Validation coupons from merchants will still be accepted. Those using the system will be aided by voice prompts and improved signs.
The first half hour of parking will be free.
The system will continue to accommodate the proximity and access cards used by homeowners and tenants.
The changes were announced May 3 during a Mystic downtown merchants meeting held at the arts center. Modifications to the system began Wednesday, according to a press release from the arts center.
New signs have been placed on Water Street to inform the public of available parking downtown, and the arts center is working with downtown merchants to create accompanying signs for businesses.
The arts center encourages the Route 1 entrance to be used by residents only. Use of the Route 1 entrance will not enable general parkers to use validation coupons.
Local merchants can offer the same parking validation coupons to their customers and employees, which can be purchased at the Mystic Arts Center in increments of one-half hour, one hour and two hours for a discounted price of $1 per hour.
The arts center is working with the Mystic Chamber of Commerce to promote the parking validation program and broaden the public's awareness of the parking lot, the arts center said.
"After studying the issues for the past four months, we believe these changes will result in a system that will be more intuitive and user-friendly and will provide a significant and ongoing benefit to the patrons of downtown merchants," said Mystic Arts Center Executive Director Karen Barthelson.