For years, four Omaha commuters have meet at the Gretna outlet mall for carpooling to jobs in Lincoln, but it’s no longer free for them to park on a section of the lot where commuters usually park and ride.
Nebraska Crossing Factory Stores Mall is requiring paid permits on the southwest portion of the mall parking lot. The numbered spaces go for $25 a month or $300 a year with free daily passes granted for carpooling three days a month.
Commuter Callie Carlson said, “We have to pay a yearly fee when for 10 years it clearly wasn’t an issue.”
Amy Goldman is one of the four commuters who take turns driving Monday through Friday after all meet at the Nebraska Crossing Factory Stores parking lot at Highway 31 and Interstate 80.
Amy said, “It’s like we’re being punished for being economical and going green.”
Metro Park and Ride has a free lot about seven miles closer to Omaha. However, the workers said that would add distance to their commute because they take a different highway that runs right past the mall.
Commuter Jen Sylvan said, “We don’t have a plan yet short of getting up a lot earlier and meeting each other at our houses.”
Nebraska Crossing property manager Tim Martin told Six On Your Side the paid permit program is for organization, not money making. Martin said he can identify who is using those spaces in case that area of the parking lot has to be cleared for an event or snow removal.
Though signs warn that vehicles without permits will be towed from that area, Martin said only one car has been towed and that was after it sat for five days. He said numerous warning will be issued before anyone is towed.