The city is allowing free downtown parking for shoppers during the holidays. Until Dec. 22, shoppers who obtain permits labeled “Shopper” from one of 10 downtown retail businesses – and what a pity it is that there are not three times that amount – can park for free between Fourth and Seventh streets east-west and Monroe to Washington streets running north-south. The permits are dated and signed by issuing merchants and are good only for the day of issue. It’s another chapter in Springfield’s seemingly never-ending issue of downtown parking. While other cities have moved to smartphone systems and other digital solutions, Springfield still relies on change and parking meters, making us quaint, perhaps, but inconvenient as the dickens. Let’s be more like Decatur, where downtown parking has been free for a dozen years, with two-hour limits enforced by city employees with license plate readers – if nothing else, it would seem we’d spend less on maintaining meters. And let’s hope this holiday parking furlough proves a success that spurs long-term change for the better.

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