By Shereen Siewert

Officials next week will approve significant changes to Wausau’s downtown parking rules, impacting visitors and workers in the city’s central business district.

The “Central Parking Business District” is an area bounded on the north by the south side of McIndoe Street, on the south by the south side of Washington Street, on the east by the curb line of the west side of Fifth Street, and on the west by the west side of First Street, according to proposed ordinance language included in meeting packet materials.

Under the new rules, areas within the district for which there is free parking on the street will offer two-hour parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding all 5-, 10- and 15-minute loading zones and handicapped areas. After a two-hour period, the vehicle cannot be parked within the same block until the next calendar day or after 6 p.m..

First violations in a calendar year will not incur a fine. Second and third violations in a calendar year will incur a $10 fine per vehicle registration or license plate number. The fine increases to $15 for fourth and fifth violations and to $25 for all subsequent violations.

Vehicles parked after 6 p.m. will not incur a fine even if left overnight as long as the vehicle is moved in time to avoid violating the daytime parking rules and a snow emergency is not in effect. Monthly unlimited parking permits are also available for several downtown parking ramps.

Parking pay stations are also in the works, but have not yet been installed. Pay stations will accept coin, cash and credit cards with a new parking mobile app to provide parking reminders via text and allow remote extended time purchases for drivers who need more time than the free two hours, according to the release. The mobile app, Passport, is the same system used in cities around the state including Appleton, Green Bay, Stevens Point, La Crosse and Fond du Lac.

New license plate recognition technology is already being used that eliminated the past chalking process. The technology aims to improve enforcement and ensure on-street space turnover happens more quickly, officials said.

See a copy of the proposed ordinance changes in the Wausau City Council packet here.

The council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau.