Allotted space, fees examined for tenants
By Robert Cloud
Several downtown property owners have inquired about parking space for potential tenants if they put apartments above their shops.
“I think it’s critical that you have an area to go to, but at the same time, I think it’s something that if it’s going to be a designated area on city property, I think there should be some type of fee,” Public Works Director Robert Garske said.
Garske spoke about the need for downtown tenant parking at the Sept. 11 meeting of the Board of Public Works.
If the city designates parking space for tenants, it would need to provide permits, window stickers, signs and enforcement.
“All that adds up and needs to be covered,” Garske said.
Ald. BaLynda Croy asked if there was a way for the city to remove signs if it designated more parking space than was needed.
Garske said the city could initially assign five spaces for tenant parking, then expand it as needed.
He also noted that there are signs with bases that can be kept in the grounds but the signs can be removed.
Ald. John Faucher asked if the city could rely on permit stickers rather than designated spaces.
“I could see something like that and you keep it to the north stalls only,” Garske said. “The only problem is, and it doesn’t happen often, when we have any events that happen down there, there aren’t any open spots in that lot.”
Garske noted that a person who paid the permit fee could be unable to find a parking space during an event, such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
City Administrator Chad Hoerth also noted there were advantages to having a designated area for tenants.
“We don’t want those individuals taking up the prime real estate down on the southern end,” he said. “If you’re going to do that, the northern end makes the most sense.”
“If you don’t give them an area to go to, you know what’s going to happen, they’re all going to park on the southern end,” Ald. John Hass said.
The city lot the board discussed is located north of Water Street, between Lincoln Court and St. John’s Place. Most of the stores, restaurants and taverns are located south of the parking lot.
Hoerth suggested that only downtown residents could obtain parking permits and not the general public, such as downtown employees.
“I think you’re opening a whole can of worms,” Ald. Tim Roberts said, “The enforcement is going to be a huge issue. We can’t enforce the two-hour parking right now.”
Roberts also questioned if the $10 permit fee would generate enough revenue to pay the cost of enforcement.
“We have so many taxes and fees in this town,” he said. “We have to get a dog license. How many people have dogs in this town who don’t have dog licenses?”
Ald. Mike Barrington defended charging a permit fee.
“Do you give me a garage at home?” he asked. Do you give me a parking slot? If they’re going to park downtown, they should pay for it.”
Noting a recent incident where someone drove a car into a business on Pearl Street, Croy said she was concerned about not allowing people to leave their vehicles in city lots if they “had a little too much fun.”
They “should not be behind the wheel, but they have to get their vehicle off the street or they’re going to get a fine,” Croy said. “You know they’re going to get in and move it (vehicle).”
“I can’t speak for the people that had too much to drink and I don’t want them driving either, but I can’t be responsible for their vehicle,” Garske said. “That’s not what I’m after here. I’m solely looking out for the residents that we want to bring to downtown. If they have a vehicle, to give them that opportunity to have an area to park.”
Faucher described his earlier experience working as a bartender. He said he would notify the police that a customer would be leaving their car win the lot overnight, then contact someone to give them a safe ride home.
He also suggested looking at how other cities provide parking for downtown tenants.
Waupaca parking permits
The city of Waupaca offers permits for $120 per year, from October through September. The annual fee is prorated for those who buy the permit after October.
According to a city ordinance, permits for overnight parking are available for three of the Waupaca’s six downtown lots.
Waupaca City Clerk Barb Nowak said the city issues an average of 75 per year.
“Officers enforce parking at night time by looking for parking permits,” according to Waupaca Police Chief Brian Hoelzel. “If a vehicle does not have one, the registered owner is issued a parking citation.”
New London’s Board of Public Works will continue to review the issue before making a recommendation to the city council.