(WMC) - Paying to park: It's expected in some areas but not on small town squares, until now, where meters are now in Oxford, Mississippi.
Oxford Square spaces came with a price tag for the first time Tuesday.
"I think the parking is a little steep, but then again you can find a parking place, and I don't think they'll stay there much longer than an hour," visitor Jim Green said.
Green and his wife, Cissy are from Memphis and were just visiting when they used the meter for the first time.
Parking spaces that now cost money seemed to be less in demand once the usually-busy lunch hour hit Tuesday.
"We didn't think we'd find a place to park on the square, we wondered what was going on," Cissy said.
Along with easing traffic and leaving space for shoppers, city leaders say they hope to use money from meters to pay for a parking garage that would be free to visitors in the future.
"There's no reason in the world that people who are coming to visit can't help us pay for these improvements,"Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said.
Patterson added that revenue generated could also be used to fund roads and other improvements for the square.
Only change, debit, and credit cards work at the machine. Users have the option to pay $1 per hour or can use change to buy minutes in smaller increments.
Not everyone is happy about the fee to park.
"I don't think it's fair," resident Laura Beth Scheider said.
There are still six free parking lots in downtown Oxford off the square.
On the first day the meters went live, it was tough to find a place to park in the free zones.
Scheider said it can be awful trying to find a place to park on game day weekends.
"It can be pretty crazy sometimes. I've driven around like 30 minutes sometimes," Scheider said.
The rules change during home football games when time is more restricted. Holidays and Sundays are free.
The city said parking enforcement officers will be patrolling the square on foot checking the meters to make sure people have paid for their spots.
Meters flash red when time has expired and green when users still have time remaining.
Tickets are $10 each for the first two offenses.
Fines go up after the second ticket and drivers can get booted after a fourth offense.