OGDEN -- City officials are advising patrons of the farmers and art market and other downtown weekend activities to avoid the parking lots around the Marriott Hotel on 24th Street.
Some of the parking stalls are newly designated as paid parking by some of the multiple owners of the lots in that city block.
That creates confusion that can result in a $36 parking ticket from a parking service, such as Diamond Parking Services.
The Marriott owns the stalls adjacent to the hotel, and other businesses on the block own other sections. The Ogden Redevelopment Agency and the Marriott are among those not charging fees to park, said Dan Musgrave, head of Downtown Ogden Inc.
DOI contracts with the city for events such as the farmers and art market, which began its season July 14.
"That was new for us this year," Musgrave said of the shock to attendees of finding the $36 tickets under their windshield wipers. "That was a bit of a surprise. It hadn't been designated in the past."
Permission is in place, he said, for free use of the parking lots for the Federal Building straight north of the farmers and art market site on the Municipal Building grounds, as well as the city employee and public parking areas around the Municipal Building.
Musgrave said that equates to "actually acres" of free parking.
"So we're trying to get the word out there is still ample, free parking, with just those lots south and east of the Marriott to be leery of."
Organizers, despite the parking controversy, are still counting record numbers of visitors to the Saturday farmers and art market, he said.
Musgrave estimated as many as 8,000 people have been showing up for the markets, which run 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 29.
"It is confusing, and it's not very well-signed," Musgrave said of the private parking. "And without proper marking, it looks pretty sneaky."
"The signage is not very clear," agreed Ogden Police Lt. Chad Ledford.
"It appears to be all the same lot, but there are several different owners. It's a mess."
The stalls in question became paid spots possibly eight months ago, he said, with weekend visitors downtown affected only recently when attending various city functions such as the farmers and art market.
Musgrave said the city's Economic Development Department is talking to property owners and the Diamond Parking Services company about improving the signs and stall markings.