Foot traffic in Aggieville decreases, public relations campaign suggested as solution

Manhattan residents speak at city commission meeting to advo cate for free parking in Aggieville. Despite their efforts the city will still charge for parking.
Manhattan residents speak at city commission meeting to advocate for free parking in Aggieville. The city will still charge for parking. (Ben Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Manhattan City Commission stands by the Aggieville parking garage and is not on board with transitioning back to free parking.

“I think we have a responsibility to the taxpayers, ” Linda Morse, city commissioner, said. “We have built this garage, we have to figure out how to make it work because we can’t go back and unbuild it. We can only incur more side steps and debt, so we need to move on.”

Belinda Snyder, president of Aggieville Board of Directors, spoke to the city commission and asked for them to consider bringing back free parking until July 31.

 “We have so many people not just saying it is hard to get to Aggieville or having a hard time with the garage, but just saying we are not going to come,” Snyder said. “A lot of different sets of people right now just do not want to come to Aggieville because we are making it too hard.” 

Mark J. Hatesohl, mayor of Manhattan, said he is open to launching a PR campaign called “Come back to Aggieville” to clarify why “the parking garage is not that terrible” and to boost the district’s traffic.

“How do we get people to change their mind about going to Aggieville?” Hatesohl said. “I do not think free parking is the key; it might be 10% of the problem. It is still going to be the perception. … That is what we need, some type of campaign to tell people to get your bums back to Aggieville, eat, drink and buy some stuff because it is a cool place and you can make the parking work.”

Wynn Butler, city commissioner, said he agrees with the PR effort.

“I think maybe we need to say, look, the parking garage is easy to work,” Butler said. “I really do not think that is what is deterring people from getting there. Then you have the naysayers on facebook saying they want to beat everybody up and say everything is a tragedy, we need to just counter that and a PR effort may be the way to do that.”