Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
Fort Worth officially turned its only free parking lot near City Hall into a pay lot on Monday, much to the displeasure of drivers.
No matter where you park around Fort Worth City Hall these days, you will have to pay during business hours.
The last free parking lot, located just south of City Hall, officially became a pay lot Monday morning.
The city put up signs last week and warned drivers for weeks that they would soon have to pay for a spot in the 60-plus space lot.
The city said the free lot wasn't paying off for visitors.
"The issue of course, with free goods, is that people use it and abuse it," said Peter Elliott, the city's parking manager.
He said drivers were abusing the free three-hour lot, causing it to fail to serve its purpose.
"People were staying all day and, typically, you would never be able to get a space in here, especially during the middle of the day," Elliott said. "So this creates more turnover and more people are able to use the lot, which is the intent of the lot."
The city said the switch to a pay lot was needed to help get more people in and out of the area.
But none of the dozens of people parking in the lot on Monday were happy about the change. Those who have parked there for years said they want the free parking back.
"We've been parking here for a long time ago -- we're talking about more than 20 years," Diane Cobos said.
She and her husband make regular trips to the City Hall area, but Monday morning's venture brought something new.
"We tried to find quarters in my car and everything," she said. "I said, 'Oh my God, I have to find quarters for a parking space.' But we've been doing this for a long time, for many years, and suddenly they come up with this."
The once-free lot was a savior for people looking to make a quick trip to City Hall or who anticipated long lines at the municipal court building, but it's viewed as another inconvenience.
"You can't come downtown to park for free," Cynthia Tucker said. "You're barely making it as it is, and we got to pay to park."
"It's kind of sad," Walidah Harvey said. "It was free once. We really need that, because a lot of people don't have money."
The lot is believed to have been the last free parking lot during all business hours in all of downtown.
"They are always finding a way to charge you, you know," Harvey said.
Parking around City Hall has been an issue for years. The city recently added angled parking in a former traffic lane of Jennings Avenue on the east side of City Hall, more than doubling the number of spots on that side of the street.