more downtown parking changes

map of proposed changes

map of proposed changes

At the Board of Public Works meeting on Monday, Ken Pabich (city planning director) presented a proposal to convert a number of short term parking spaces on Reid St and Main Ave downtown from 2-hour parking to unrestricted, which means you can park all day but not overnight. This idea started when Associated Bank notified the city a week and a half earlier that they are converting their building on the corner of Reid and 4th from a branch office to an office building for 40 employees. These employees would obviously need all-day parking, and they no longer have a need for 2-hour parking for bank customers.

The main reason I’m even writing about this is that just 6 months ago, last year’s city council approved a new ordinance creating a $10 monthly fee for long term parking downtown. That turned out to be a big mistake. As a result, dozens of residents and business owners attended the January 17 City Council meeting to share their feelings against the ordinance. Then, at the next meeting, the City Council overturned the ordinance. The big problem here is that the business owners were blind-sided with the information, and never shared their feedback with the City Council BEFORE the ordinance was approved.

So at the Public Works meeting, I asked how much notice was given to the local businesses about this new change. It turns out the notice just went out via postal mail last Friday. This means that most businesses will have seen the information for the first time on Monday, just hours before it was discussed at the Public Works meeting. That’s just not enough notice in my book.

However, I voted in favor of the change for a couple of reasons. First, Pabich and his staff monitored the parking stalls for a week to see how they were used, and determined that such a change would not negatively affect overall parking availability. I’m glad they did that. Second, the issue must now go to the full City Council for approval before it becomes official. This allows businesses and the Chamber of Commerce a few more days to gather their thoughts and to attend the City Council meeting to share their feedback. I believe it will be on our agenda next Tuesday.

The Chamber of Commerce was included in the postal notification, and I also e-mailed the chamber president on Monday night. So I hope they will pay attention and share any feedback, good or bad, before we take up the issue officially at the City Council meeting next week.

If you’re interested, you can see this issue discussed in the video of the Public Works meeting. It’s the first 10 minutes.

As always, please contact me with your feedback. I want to know.