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updated: 5/14/2013 9:23 PM

Parking meters thing of the past in downtown Aurora

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Parking meters in downtown Aurora are history.

Literally.

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The last remaining meter was symbolically removed and given to the Aurora Historical Society on Tuesday as the city transitioned to a free parking system.

Signs designating areas allowing parking for 90 minutes or two, three, six or 10 hours have been posted throughout the streets surrounding Stolp Island, and residents now can adjust to the new regulations.

Parking along Benton Street to do some shopping downtown Tuesday afternoon, Juan Moreno of Aurora said the change will be convenient for times he needs to pay bills at city hall or take his kids to the library.

"It's wonderful," Moreno said about free downtown parking. "I love the change they made."

But heading to the Exchange Club's Taste of Aurora on Tuesday afternoon, Penny Cameron said she has her doubts.

"I don't think I'm going to like it," she said.

Roadways like New York Street, where Cameron said she likes to park before eating at downtown restaurants, now carry 90-minute limits, leading Cameron to believe she may have to rush her meals if she wants the closest parking.

While parking on roads through the heart of downtown, such as New York Street, Galena Boulevard, Downer Place and River Street, is limited to 90 minutes, downtown visitors can park for two hours on streets further from the core, such as Lincoln Avenue and LaSalle and Benton streets.

Public lots in the downtown all allow parking for at least two hours, and some for as long as 10 hours. Permits that allow users to park all day are available for between $15 and $35. The most expensive permit allows parking in all lots, while the cheaper permits are restricted to certain color-coded areas.

"The new parking plan, which includes the removal of the meters, will better serve all of the visitors to downtown," said Jeff Noblitt, chairman of Aurora Downtown. "We can now put our quarters away and enjoy the free parking."

As Aurora concluded its first full day without parking meters since they were installed in 1948, the city council approved a two-year, $32,000 contract with Globetrotters International of Chicago for parking enforcement after normal city business hours.

Time zones will be enforced between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.

The city earlier this year bought a $133,091 license plate recognition system to help enforce time limits. The system includes five hand-held scanners equipped with printers to generate tickets when vehicles have remained in one space longer than allowed.

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