The Downtown Marietta Development Authority agreed to pay the trolley company $4,500 for the service at its meeting Thursday.
The decision comes on the heels of the Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s decision to move from the Strand Theatre on the Square to the Civic Center.
DMDA Chairman Tom Browning said the deal is an effort to encourage theatergoers to keep visiting downtown restaurants on show nights.
“The demographics of theatergoers are spenders,” Browning said.
For an hour and half before and after shows, the service will run a continuous 1.2 mile loop with possibly two trolleys stopping at three locations on the Square.
Marketing of the service will be done by the Lyric to a large mailing list and posted on the group’s website.
Brown said a success will be 200 riders, out of the usually 350 to 400 people attending each show, using the complimentary trolley.
DMDA board member James Eubanks asked what will happen for the other five productions the Lyric has scheduled this season.
Brown suggested the city or a tourism organization could cover some of the cost.
The Lyric’s last show at the Strand is June 23. “The Producers” opens at the Civic Center on August 9.
A parking lot on Anderson Street around the corner from Johnnie MacCraken’s Pub was described at the meeting as a location for predatory towing.
Philip Duke, owner of Lucky Draw Tattoo at 11 Atlanta St., said towing in the parking lot behind his building is so quick that a pizza delivery car was taken. Surrounding businesses helped to get the car back.
“I can’t bail everybody out,” said Duke, who is also an artist at the location he opened two years ago.
Duke said there are two full-time drivers in two trucks working “all day, every day,” who only accept cash payments to retrieve vehicles moved from the parking lot.
One of the owners of the lot is Chuck Clark, the husband of Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley. The space is managed by Bob Tillman.
In 2011, Tillman was booting vehicles and charging $125 for removal, until the City Council capped the fee at $50 in December 2011.
Now Tillman’s wife, Stacy Tillman, operates a towing business where cars are stored in a complex off Fairground Street and the South Loop.
Duke also complained about the lack of clear entrances or curbs for the lot, as well as a giant dropoff that lacks a guardrail.
Duke said he knows someone is going to get hurt by driving over the wall that has an eight-foot drop.
He told the board that the Marietta Police Department is no longer responding to calls from victims of the towing, saying it is a civil matter.
Duke said he’s heard tourists declare 10 times this month, “I will never come back to Marietta again.”
Duke asked the DMDA for help on who to contact to get existing state codes enforced on the property, such as ordinances on the number, placement and size of signs, as well as the language required to alert people that it is private parking.
Currently, there are two small signs on the exterior of two businesses next to the lot, he said.
The board members failed to give Duke a clear answer on who oversees this issue.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he is hesitant for his office or the City Council to act and overstep their roles.
Councilman Philip Goldstein, who sat in the audience, advised the DMDA to place a notice on the city right-of-way to warn visitors not to park there.