FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a proposal in Fort Worth to start charging drivers for spaces in downtown parking garages, even on nights and weekends. But city officials held a meeting on Thursday morning, attempting to reach an agreement with garage owners and keep those spaces free.

Sundance Square and Bass Performance Hall are among the many jewels of downtown Fort Worth, and free parking is only a couple of blocks away from these visitor attractions. Businesses in the area said that this gives them an edge over other North Texas cities, one that they do not want to go away.

There are a total of six parking contracts with the City of Fort Worth. However, two of them are about to expire. The city’s downtown tax increment financing committee apporved extended those two agreements on Thursday. But the decision is only temporary — one for 60 days and the other for 90 days.

Representatives from a number of entertainment venues were at the meeting on Thursday. They said that downtown Fort Worth has an advantage over its competition because free parking is available on nights and weekends. “If we take away parking,” stated business owner David Alhearn, “I feel like even if it’s only the incremental step — the ones by the Bass Hall — it doesn’t take too much to see that, soon, the one at Throckmorton will go. And then, suddenly, it’s paid parking down here, and we become Dallas.”

All of the parking contracts cost $3.4 million in money that could be used in other ways. Within the next two months, city officials will present facts and figures as the committee tries to determine if the free parking is really worth that cost.

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