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by Leslie Collins

When visiting urban cities across the country, does anyone focus solely on the parking experience? In most cases, probably not. More often, it’s the variety of eclectic shops, diverse dining options, architectural design, local history, art, culture and recreation that take center stage. Parking plays a critical supporting role in the overall experience, quietly adding to the experience in the background.

The formula for a successful downtown business district includes a structured parking system. Without this structure, urban districts would be in a state of chaos. Creating a comprehensive parking strategy not only ensures a sense of order along downtown streets, but it also supports economic and community development initiatives within the district. Look no further than Downtown Scranton as an example.

The Downtown is undergoing a parking transformation. The antiquated meters of the past have been replaced with updated pay stations through a contract between the City of Scranton and ABM Parking Services. ABM has modernized the system to include both on-street and off-street parking enhancements.

Here’s how the new system works: Park in any designated spot on the street, and head to the nearest pay station. Press “Start,” and follow the prompts. Enter a license plate number. Choose the amount of time needed (up to two hours). Then pay with quarters, or a credit or debit card.

Another payment option for on-street parking is available through Pango, a mobile application that allows visitors to manage parking via their smartphones. Download the app at Pango users may bypass the pay station and take advantage of special rates for all day parking (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) on designated blocks. This program is a great option for the Downtown workforce.

Additional parking is also available in a number of strategically located garages in the business district. Garage parking is ideal for those who live and work downtown, and for those who plan to be downtown for more than two hours. ABM has developed Residential and New Customer Parking programs offering incentives and discounts for garage parking. For more information on all things parking, visit ABM’s website at

In other Downtown news:

■ Plans to develop a pocket park in the Business District are well underway. In partnership with the City of Scranton, Lackawanna County and Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Scranton Tomorrow is rehabilitating an abandoned lot on the corner of Wyoming Avenue and Linden Street into much-needed greenspace. Situated along the gateway to the city’s business district, the park will serve as a main artery for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The transformation of the site, which is 10,210 square feet, will begin with required environmental clearance, site preparation and infrastructure work. Later this year, natural landscaping enhancements such as trees and shrubbery, pavers, planted areas and tree boxes will be added to create a tranquil space for all to enjoy.

■ Scranton Tomorrow’s Downtown Scranton Safe, Clean & Green Ambassador Program is now underway. Ambassadors will conduct year-round, outdoor, daily maintenance duties within the Downtown Scranton Business District, including: litter and graffiti removal, weed abatement, minor landscaping, snow shoveling at crosswalks, and painting in public areas. They will also provide a visible presence within the district, and enhance the curb appeal on city streets while serving as goodwill ambassadors.

■ Save the date: the second annual Electric City Classic will be held on Aug. 22 and 23 in Downtown Scranton and the Hill Section. A project of Scranton Tomorrow, the inaugural event in 2019 welcomed professional and amateur cyclists from around the world to the Electric City for a weekend of competition and healthy fun. Thanks to the support of business and community leaders, a new summer tradition is now growing. There are plenty of sponsorship and volunteer opportunities available to those who would like to be part of this exciting event.

Leslie Collins is the executive director of Scranton Tomorrow, a non-partisan, non-profit economic development organization. Connect with her via email at To learn more about Scranton Tomorrow, visit