Huntsville to Launch Mobile and Credit Card Downtown Parking Payments

The city has plans to make it easier to pay for parking in downtown Huntsville. (USNews.com)

Huntsville’s high-tech expertise takes a leap into downtown parking.

The city is adopting new technologies to make it easier for patrons to pay for parking with a smartphone and credit card. Early next year, about 400 parking spaces, including those with coin-operated meters, will be updated for easy pay by smartphone and credit card options.

This will enable users to:

  • Monitor their parking sessions
  • Extend time remotely
  • View payment history
  • Receive email receipts

“We want to make it easier for customers to pay for parking and to extend their time without the hassle of returning to a meter,” said Tommy Brown, director of Parking and Public Transit. “You can be in a meeting that is running late and add more time to your parking meter using your cell phone.”

While a coin/bill pay option will still be available when paying to park downtown, Mayor Tommy Battle said the new meter system will make it more convenient for residents and guests to enjoy Huntsville’s downtown.

“People expect to have the ease of mobile apps and credit card options when they purchase a good or service, and parking meters are no exception,” he said. “This is just one more step in the City’s effort to modernize our business practices and make us user friendly.”

Parking and Public Transit plans to begin installing the new meters around Big Spring Park and Lot H, which adjoins The Avenue.

IOS, Android and mobile web apps allow motorists to park at traditional meters without needing coins. Parkers establish a minimum $5 wallet on the app with their credit card and pay for parking from that wallet. They will enter their license plate when they park and enforcement will use the license plate to determine who has paid to park.

Drivers will receive reminder notifications, email receipts and remote session extensions that allow them to extend their parking without going back to the meter.

A single multispace meter will service parking spaces so there are fewer meters to maintain. Drivers will enter their license plate when they park and enforcement will use the license plate to determine who has paid to park. The meters allow for more flexible forms of payment such as coins, bills and credit cards.

Drivers will be able to receive parking expiry reminders and to extend time via mobile phone using the integrated Extend-by-Phone service. PassportParking is free to download through the App Store or Google Play. Users can also manage their parking at ppprk.com. The app is also available in many cities nationwide.

Downtown Huntsville honored by international group

Downtown Huntsville was awarded a Certificate of Merit Award for the Spragins Street Greenway and Cycle Track Connector.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Downtown Huntsville Inc. was awarded a Certificate of Merit Award for the Spragins Street Greenway and Cycle Track Connector by the International Downtown Association.

The project was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the category of Planning during the IDA’s 64th annual conference and trade show.

This category features planning efforts that have established a strategic position for downtown, and that include elements of the plan that have already been approved, ratified, and implemented.

“The Spragins Connector creates an important bicycle link between two popular downtown parks – Big Spring Park East and Depot Park.  By making this connection, over 3 miles of pedestrian and bike infrastructure are linked,” said Chad Emerson, president/CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc. “We’re grateful that our partners at the city of Huntsville implemented this key first step of the Downtown Master Plan Update.”

Washington, D.C.-based IDA is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Downtown Huntsville, Inc is the urban place management organization representing the interests of property owners in Huntsville. 

“Downtown Huntsville’s project received the IDA Certificate of Merit for successfully employing best practice in urban place management,” said David Downey, IDA president/CEO. “The Spragins Greenway and Track Connector is a shining example of downtown management delivering real value to the city.”

Trash Pandas Emporium Grand Opening Saturday Features Apparel Sales and Season Ticket Orders

The Trash Pandas will hold the grand opening of their store at Bridge Street Town Centre on Saturday. (Photo by Steve Babin)

“If you build it, they will come” is a well-known line from the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Well, in the case of Monday’s “soft opening” of the Rocket City Trash Pandas Emporium – “If you sell it, they will come.”

The area’s new minor league baseball team hasn’t played an inning. Heck, it doesn’t even have a ballpark.

But that didn’t deter fans from showing up and buying merchandise Monday.

The grand opening for the store at Bridge Street Town Centre is set for 9 a.m. Saturday.

The team will also be taking deposits for season tickets – the fee is $250 per seat. There will be brochures available so fans can see the seating for the new ballpark – which is expected to be finished by the end of next year. 

The Trash Pandas officially begin play April 15, 2020; meanwhile, the team is still the Mobile BayBears through next season.

Monday’s activity, though, was supposed to be a “soft opening” for the store.

The key phrase is “was supposed to be …”

“It’s been steady,” said Jennie Askins, the team’s vice president of corporate and community partnerships. “We didn’t promote this. This was to give our Trash Pandas Ambassadors (sales staff) a chance to learn and talk to people.

“And a chance to work out any kinks.”

Things were running pretty kink-free Monday as the steady flow of fans made their choices of apparel – ranging from jackets to caps to hoodies and T-shirts.

“The store will be open everyday through Dec. 30,” Askins said. “Then all sales will be online (trashpandas.milb.com).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frontier Takes Flight at Huntsville International Airport

It was a Rocky Mountain high kind of day Friday when Frontier Airlines’ first flight from Huntsville took off.

“We are excited to be starting service and proud to bring our unique brand of ‘Low Fares Done Right’ to Huntsville,” said Jonathan Freed, director of Corporate Communications for Frontier Airlines. “Frontier is always looking for ways to make travel easier and more affordable, and our … frequent flier program with family-friendly benefits and attainable elite status, as well as our reduced change fees – free if you make changes more than 90 days before you fly – are the latest examples …”

The first flight departed for Denver at high noon Friday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Frontier will begin service to and from Orlando on Oct. 21.

“Frontier Airlines boasts a network that serves over 100 cities in the U.S., Mexico and Dominican Republic,” said Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker. “They have over 1,000 nonstop and connecting routes. Couple that stability and structure with our region’s excellent track record of supporting low cost carriers and it’s a recipe for success.

“This partnership fills a void in our market and provides our leisure and business travelers with more options for a lower price. Our customers appreciate convenience and we know they will support this service by flying local from Huntsville International Airport on Frontier Airlines.”

For information, visit flyfrontier.com and flyhuntsville.com.

Baron Weather Research Institute to Aid Transportation

So, how many times do you check the weather before hitting the road or the water?

Well, leave it to veteran meteorologist Bob Baron to help make those observations easier.

Baron, CEO and founder of Baron Services, has launched the Baron Critical Weather Institute, which will focus on the unique weather and safety challenges facing the transportation industry.

The goal is to create a comprehensive statewide weather observation network including road, river and atmospheric conditions. This will help ensure that citizens across Alabama will receive improved and more timely current conditions and forecasts on roadways and waterways as they travel across the state.

Baron said “the Tennessee Valley and the state of Alabama uniquely experience a broad range of weather events and contain terrain that extends from subtropical seashores to mountains along with navigable waterways, seaways, highways and airways.

“Our state is home to numerous manufacturing powerhouses who produce transportation-related products, including automobiles, boats, railcars and aircraft.”

The Institute’s efforts to develop, coordinate, and support world class instrumentation across the state will provide a building block for major weather research and development, particularly in transportation.

Guiding the Institute’s development are Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Dr. John Christy, Director of Earth System Science Center at UAH and the Alabama state climatologist; Dr. Steve Goodman, retired Chief Scientist, GOES-R, NOAA; Dr. Jack Hayes, retired director, U.S. National Weather Service; retired Air Force Col. Brian Hastings, director of Alabama Emergency Management Agency; Daryl Herzmann, Systems Analyst, Iowa Environmental Mesonet; Dr. Sytske Kimball, Chair of University of South Alabama Department of Earth Sciences and director of South Alabama Mesonet; John McLaughlin, retired Chief Meteorologist KCCI, Fellow AMS; and Tom Thompson, Partner, Chief Technology Officer, Baron.

Also, the Baron Critical Weather Institute will provide education outreach, including helping student scientists understand the importance of weather instrumentation in studying the weather.

Huntsville Strikes Silver with Flights to Orlando

Silver Airways has joined the ranks of air carriers at Huntsville International Airport.

And it didn’t waste any time with its first nonstop flight to Orlando taking off Thursday morning.

We are very excited to start this highly-requested nonstop service for business and leisure travelers from Alabama and the Tennessee Valley travelling to the attractions, beaches and businesses of Central Florida, including NASA and Florida’s Space Coast,” said Alabama native and Silver Airways Vice President David LeNoir. “We are delighted with the support and outstanding reception from the folks in the Tennessee Valley for our safe, affordable, and friendly air service.”

To celebrate the new nonstop Huntsville-to-Orlando service, Silver is offering fares for a limited time from only $99 at silverairways.com. In addition, Silver offers one-stop connections from Huntsville to Fort Lauderdale and Key West and one-stop connections from Huntsville to Marsh Harbour and Freeport in the Bahamas.
“The addition of Orland0 … to the list of nonstop destinations for our market has been received with great excitement,” said Betty Fletcher, chair of the airport’s board of directors.
Mayor Tommy Battle emphasized the importance of non-stop air service.
“Our push to offer more non- stops to our top destinations has brought us another outstanding airline to better serve North Alabama,” said Battle.
Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker said it’s important for local residents and businesses to take advantage of the opportunities at Huntsville International Airport.
“Attracting and sustaining new air service is a community-wide matter that affects each and every one of us – both the leisure traveler and the business traveler,” he said. “Launching this service from Huntsville to Orlando is an excellent step to providing all of the citizens of the Tennessee Valley more air travel options and savings.
“Support from the business community and our residents is integral to attracting and sustaining service like this in Huntsville and so we encourage everyone to fly HSV and Silver Airways so that we can continue to provide more air travel options to more destinations and with lower fares.”

Madison baseball team’s Final Five mascot contenders announced

MADISON — And then there were five.

The five finalists in the name the team contest have been announced by BallCorps, LLC, owner of the Southern League baseball franchise to be relocated from Mobile to Madison.

The final five names were those receiving the highest number of votes from more than 15,000 online ballots cast for the top 10 names between July 26 and Aug. 16. All team names were nominated by residents of the Tennessee Valley.

The top five names in alphabetical order are:

• Comet Jockeys: A celebration of our brave astronauts who explore outer space.

• Moon Possums: A scavenger at heart, these local critters are known for hanging around and having a good time with their family – just like going to a ballgame.

• Space Chimps: A tribute to Miss Baker, one of the first animals safely launched into space. She is buried on the grounds at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

• ThunderSharks: Mix the powerful thunder of North Alabama’s storms with the ultra-strong, sleek determination of the shark and you end up with the personality of our community.

• Trash Pandas: (Slang for raccoon) Our community is known for engineering, and no creature in our galaxy is as smart, creative, determined and ingenious a problem solver – dedicated to the challenge at hand.

The voting for the five finalists is underway at NorthAlabamaBaseball.com and will extend through noon Labor Day, Sept. 3.

The final team name will be announced at a public event on Sept. 5 at 6 pm at Rocket Republic Brewing Co., 289 Production Ave, Madison.

Working with Brandiose of San Diego, the Minor League Baseball industry’s premiere branding partner, the nominated names were selected based on uniqueness and how each name relates to the characteristics of Madison and surrounding communities. The names were chosen to further BallCorps’ objective of providing affordable fun to families in North Alabama and southern Tennessee.

At the top of the list in merchandise popularity in Minor League Baseball are numerous Brandiose-branded teams including the El Paso Chihuahuas,Hartford Yard Goats, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, New Orleans Baby Cakes, Reading Fightin Phils, Omaha Storm Chasers, and Frisco RoughRiders.

Huntsville International, Frontier Airlines woo leisure travelers with low-cost fares, non-stop flights

Huntsville International Airport announced a new carrier to serve the area.

Frontier Airlines will begin service in October and, in making the announcement, Rick Tucker, executive director of the Airport Authority, revealed introductory $39 air fares; non-stop flights from Huntsville to Denver International Airport; and the only non-stop service to Orlando International Airport.

In front of more than a hundred people on hand for the “Big Reveal” in the airport’s main terminal, Tucker said it is an exciting time to be here in our community and an exciting time to welcome Frontier Airlines to Huntsville.

“Known as an ultra, low-cost carrier, Frontier is going to be a tremendous benefit to everyone in our community,” Tucker said. “For business travelers and especially for leisure travelers – get ready for low fares!”

Huntsville International Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker announces the arrival of Frontier Airlines.

Guests at the event were provided with paper airplanes upon arrival. Two guests opened their paper airplanes to find they had won a $500 airfare voucher – one to Orlando and the other to Denver. The introductory air fares are available at flyfrontier.com.

“We are proud to bring our unique brand of ‘Low Fares Done Right’ to the Rocket City,” said Stephen Shaw, spokesman for Frontier Airlines. “Frontier’s new flights to Denver and Orlando will make air travel more accessible and affordable for everyone in Huntsville and northern Alabama.

“We look forward to making it easier for people to fly, and for people to fly more often.”

“This partnership is important to us because it fills a specific void for a low-cost carrier for our leisure travelers at HSV,” said Betty Fletcher, chairman of the board for Huntsville International Airport. “It is no secret that Huntsville has a lot of expendable income in the market, it also it is a known fact that we have a lot of very frugal engineers that have demanded fair, competitive, comparable fares.

“We can be certain that our community will respond well to and support Frontier Airlines.”

The Frontier Airlines network serves more 80 cities in the U.S., Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Frontier has more than 1,000 nonstop and connecting routes.

“Couple that with stability, structure, and an excellent track record for supporting low cost carriers, and you have a recipe for success,” Shaw said.

MidCity Huntsville gets its High Point

High Point Climbing & Fitness held a groundbreaking for its facility in MidCity Huntsville

Just a year ago, the Rocket City was not on the top of the mind of the owner of the Southeast’s top climbing facility.

But, after some gentle persuasion by a top city official, that facility is coming to MidCity Huntsville.

“Huntsville was not on our radar until a year ago,” said Johnny O’Brien, co-owner of Chattanooga-based High Point Climbing and Fitness. “Shane Davis (the city’s director of urban development) pushed us … and it became a no-brainer.”

High Point held a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday adjacent to Top Golf in MidCity Huntsville, the mixed-use development at University Drive and Research Park Boulevard. O’Brien said construction on High Point should start in August with an opening planned for next summer.

The company opened a gym in Chattanooga five years ago and it was named “the coolest climbing gym in the country by Climbing magazine in 2015,” O’Brien said. “And I’m most proud of this one (MidCity) and am excited to get started.”

High Point Climbing & Fitness Co-Owner Johnny O’Brien said it was a “no-brainer” to expand to Huntsville.

High Point will feature expansive bouldering and rope climbing areas along with a 2,400 square-foot “Kid Zone” that has climbing elements designed specifically for young climbers. The 25,000 square-foot facility will also offer weight training and cardio equipment, a yoga studio, gear shop and two event rooms.

“The outdoor wall caters to all climbers,” said co-owner and High Point President John Wiygul. “The Kids Zone will have a mini-Saturn 5 to climb.”

O’Brien stressed the family atmosphere at High Point.

“This is a multi-generational experience,” he said. “I love seeing families working out and playing together.”

High Point will offer various youth programs; including clubs and teams that compete in USA Climbing sporting events, and professional climbing instruction for beginner to expert level rock climbers.

“We want to exceed everyone’s expectations, from the friendly staff to the quality of the climbing walls, we want our gym in Huntsville to reflect every positive attribute the climbing community has to offer,” Wiguyl said.

The developer of MidCity Huntsville is RCP Companies. Recently ranked as the fourth largest commercial real estate project in the U.S., MidCity Huntsville features first-to-market concepts in retail, dining, entertainment, residential and hospitality, making it one of the most dynamic mixed-use developments in the Southeast.

Topgolf, Dave & Buster’s, High Point Climbing & the Adrenaline Zone, Rascal Flatt’s, Wahlburger’s, and world-class music venues are leading the way in establishing the MidCity as the hub for the Tennessee Valley’s workforce and growing regional population.

 

Convention & Visitors Bureau names Koshofer VP, makes 2 other hires

Jamie Koshofer, former director of sales and marketing at the Westin Huntsville, has been named vice president of conventions by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The CVB also made a pair of other hires. Beth Ridgeway is the social media specialist and Mark McCarter was named convention sales manager.

Koshofer will oversee the CVB’s conventions department, which works to promote Huntsville/Madison County as a premier destination for meetings, conferences, tradeshows, and other events. The conventions team services a wide variety of markets, including government/military, sports, education, family reunions, religious, corporate, and multi-cultural groups.

Ridgeway is the first social media specialist for the CVB, expanding the bureau’s marketing department to three full-time staffers.

McCarter is responsible for the sports, fraternal and education markets in the convention industry.