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Downtown Development Parking Office launches “We Validate” campaign

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A trip to downtown Rome for lunch or shopping doesn’t have to include looking for a spot outside the paid-parking areas adjacent to Broad Street.

The Downtown Development Parking Office has launched the “We Validate” campaign for parking downtown.

The purpose of the program is to increase parking options for customers by offering parking validations — vouchers or rebates — at the Third Avenue Parking Deck and the East First Street Annex Lot.

Parking Services Manager Becky Smyth said a few merchants have been validating customers’ for the two facilities for some time.

“We’ve had validation at the Third Avenue deck since 2010 and the annex lot since last year,” Smyth said. “It took a while to build up a base of businesses that would do validation before we really wanted to push to get the public on board with it.”

So far, 12 downtown retail stores and restaurants offer validation to customers.

Customers who see the “We Validate” stickers at downtown businesses can ask about getting validated if they have parked at either parking facility.

Those who park in the Third Avenue deck can ask and get a voucher to use when going through the exit gate so they don’t have to pay.

If a person parks in the East First Street lot during the pay hours, they will pay the parking meter first and take their receipt with them.

When they ask for parking validation, the business will take the amount they paid off of their total bill.

Smyth said she understands that paid parking downtown is still a young concept that some may be hesitant to utilize, but with the validation program, she hopes more people will be willing to take advantage of all downtown parking options.

“We try to make it as simple as possible because we know that parking sometimes gets a bad rap,” Smyth said. “This gives everyone who visits downtown an opportunity to find convenient parking.”