Below regarding free downtown parking, courtesy of the Asbury Park Press.  Paid parking downtown should have been a last resort.  Read TheBPlot’s commentary here.

The city has announced there will be free parking downtown and on the beachfront over the three-day weekend of Nov. 25 to 28 after Thanksgiving and on all Wednesdays through the end of the year.

Mayor Ed Johnson said the decision came after a meeting of the city’s parking committee, which includes both officials and business owners on Tuesday night. The goal is to relax paid parking fees on those upcoming days to encourage people to shop and dine in the city during the holidays.

Thomas Gilmour, the city’s director of commerce, said the free parking on Wednesdays recognizes that midweek day to be the slowest commercially. He said the regulations for those residents and business employees holding special reduced parking permits will remain in effect during the free parking days.

Jackie Pappas, executive director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce, said city officials have responded positively to business concerns about paid parking.

As of mid-October, 40 pay stations for 566 numbered parking spaces went into operation in the central business district at a cost of $1 an hour, 50 ceants a half hour and 25 cents for 15 minutes. Paid parking began three years ago on the beachfront. The hours of enforcement are 9 a.m. to midnight for both the downtown and oceanfront.

Pappas said Thursday the chamber is launching a $13,000 six-week marketing initiative to draw people into the city during the holiday season. The marketing will begin Thanksgiving week and be carried out through print, radio and direct mail, she said.

“We’re very excited to be able to say that,” Pappas said.

Nancy Shields: 732-643-4229; nshields@njpressmedia.com