Sweetwater City Hall no longer has valet parking.
About 10 days ago Park One, the private company that provided the service, notified the city in an email that they had decided to end its operation. Since then, two employees who every morning set up a stand with a sign of $4 per vehicle stopped coming.
The service was a test program — it lasted about one month — to determine the demand for valet parking in an effort to alleviate the lack of parking spaces around City Hall.
Park One employees parked the vehicles one block from the building, at the parking lot of another building with city offices, where visiting residents could park themselves at no charge. But several people interviewed by el Nuevo Herald recently while they were paying for valet said they did not know there was free parking nearby. There is no sign announcing the free option.
In an email sent to el Nuevo Herald, a Park One spokesperson said that the service was discontinued because there was not enough demand to justify it.
“We were not providing the service with the intention of making it a luxury, as it is done in commercial buildings,” the spokesperson wrote, “but as a relief for frustrated motorists who could not find a parking space fast enough.”
A little more than 300 people go to Sweetwater public offices every day, 80 percent of them to visit a county court office on the third floor of the building. Others visit the finance, permits or social services departments and the mayor’s office.
There are 20 parking spaces at the adjacent lot, two of them for disabled motorists and eight reserved for city employees. The remaining 10 spaces have parking meters at 25 cents for 20 minutes.
The free parking a block from City Hall is located at 10899 SW Fourth St., private property where the departments of construction, public works, the city attorney’s office and the communications office operate.
Because the valet service was a pilot operation, no contract exists between Park One and Sweetwater City Hall, city attorney Ralph Ventura said.
“No legal document was exchanged between the private company and the city,” Ventura said. “So there was no obligation between the entities.”
The city did not make any money on the service and there was no legal arrangement to cover possible damages. Park One said that in case of a crash or accident, the company would have paid for it.