Proposal for Madison St. parking meters draws ire

Shoppers aren't on-board with the plan, but businesses give it a green light

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By Tom Holmes

Local businesses and residents are divided over a recent Village Council proposal to reinstall parking meters on downtown Madison Street, as a way to help fill an anticipated $1 million budget shortfall.

The village got rid of Madison's parking meters in 2000, said Tim Gillian, village administrator. He said metered areas are free after 6p.m. In a statement, Commissioner Joe Byrne said the council has talked about this proposal at budget meetings, but still needs to do more research.    

Ray Lusson, of Forest Park, said anyone who thinks adding new meters is a good idea is "part of the problem." 

"The village of Forest Park should be ashamed of themselves for suggesting the most prudent or rational path to a sound budget is to collect more tax revenue," Lusson said. "The obvious and intelligent answer appears to be that the village needs to stop spending irresponsibly."

Mike Radzilowski, of Oak Park, said the village gets business from providing free parking. 

"I would not mess with that," he said. 

Julie Doloszyzki serves as a walking example of that business. Doloszyzki, of Forest Park, said she decides where to eat and shop based on the amount of free parking nearby. 

"I park on the side streets and walk so that I do not have to park in the lots with the difficult-to-use meters," she said. 

But at a "Business After Hours" event at Grand Appliance and TV on October 26, none of the 15 Chamber of Commerce members present objected to metered parking.

"Free parking causes people to leave their cars in the free spaces longer than they otherwise would if charged," said Erik Fjelstad, Chamber secretary.

Gillian said he has received letters from Madison Street business owners in favor of pay-to-park. If metered parking were installed, he said the village would likely add pay boxes around the downtown business district and on Roosevelt Road. It would be a pay-by-plate system, and enforced using plate-reading technology and the police department's parking enforcement officers, Gillian said. 

 "In any scenario, the parking vendor would install the equipment and we would split revenue until the hardware is paid off," he said. 

Council members have previously discussed limiting parking on Madison Street to three hours and charging 50 cents an hour during the day, and a dollar an hour at night. This could generate an additional $400,000 in revenue, Gillian has said.  

Total Parking Solutions, which provides metered parking boxes in Chicago, has been discussed as a possible technology vendor. Their pay boxes cost about $9,000 each.

This article has been changed to correct Tim Gillian's job title. He is village administrator, not village manager.

Reader Comments

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Emma Christiansen from Forest Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2017 4:19 PM

Every time I go to Oak Park, I get a ticket of some sort. It is ridiculous how many parking tickets they give out. I never go there anymore, to shop or otherwise. I see police officers out there all day and night giving out tickets. Do we want our officers wasting time policing parked cars? I think we have bigger problems to cover. Lets not turn Forest Park's best shopping and restaurant district into a huge hassle for people. They need the business! I was just thinking, what a great town we live in.

John R. Hosty Jr.  

Posted: November 14th, 2017 1:52 PM

Yes Bill you are "NOT a Lawyer" or one who easily can see two sides to an issue. Please explain in your mind and understanding how one "authorizes" people to park in-front of their homes on a public street? Believe what Joe was explaining is people utilize the villages "overnight" parking privilege and the Village grants authority to park at given street locations, not the home-owner. Hopefully you haven't wasted alot of 911 time filing fraud charges on these unscrupulous villains.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 13th, 2017 8:34 AM

And Joe Mullen? If you have really have heard bar goers getting out of their car calling in their car using your address - and I'm not saying you didn't - you should contact the police and tell them you did not authorize the parking in front of your address. This should be treated as a crime; they are lying to police to obtain something they're not otherwise entitled to. I'm not a lawyer, but I believe that's called fraud.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 13th, 2017 7:35 AM

If the village doesn't treat the Madison Street meter technology as simply a revenue cookie jar by which rates can be raised whenever needed, charging for parking may work. Oak Park, which FoPa leaders love to mock, has dealt with the issue for years, and has both handled it right and handled it wrong. FoPa would do well to study OP's experience and avoid their mistakes while modeling their successes. As for non-residents lying to obtain overnight parking passes, there are ways to address that.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: November 9th, 2017 1:03 PM

Joe, you don't need to put anything on your dashboard when you park in Constitution Court. The receipt is solely for your benefit/record. The police (or whoever enforces) accesses the parking kiosk and it tells them which spaces are paid for and for how long. They do not need to walk the lot unless they are issuing a ticket.

Joe Mullen from FP  

Posted: November 9th, 2017 9:04 AM

Next the Village will want to take houses for more parking... Oh wait, we've been down that road before. The enforcement for cars parked on Madison and the surrounding side streets longer than 2 hours has NEVER been there. I live on a Madison side street and overnight parking is enforced however bar patrons know to call their car in if they plan to park overnight and go somewhere else. I have actually heard bar goers getting out of their car calling in their car using my address. It is amazing what people know or can figure out. Install pay parking and it will still need to be enforced... by whom? I see expired paid dashboard parking passes at Constitution court every weekend. Budget shortfalls

Michelle Andres Fitz-Henry  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 9:34 PM

Bad idea. Avoid OP shopping when able to for just this reason. People LOVE the non-metered parking. How about using all the revenue from gambling to offset the needed funds?

Linda Fairbanks  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 5:52 PM

One of the reasons I avoid Oak Park is their ridiculous parking situation. Do let's screw up FP as well.

Pam Fontana  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 11:33 AM

Jon, who will be policing the enforcement of the two hour limit (which is the limit throughout the village already and not really enforced)?

Jon Pirc from Forest Park  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 9:58 AM

How about instead of installing meters, the village makes those free parking spaces limited to 2 hours at a time? If they park for longer than 2 hours, then they can get a minimal ticket or fine, or at that point will have to start paying a higher meter fee? The businesses get what they want with more parking turnover, and us residents aren't literally nickeled and dimed for wanting to park and spend money at our local shops. Common sense and compromise are what we need to overcome the budget shortfall. Forest Park really needs to stop trying to balance the budget on the shoulders of our already overtaxed citizens.

Helen Vogel  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 9:22 AM

Mr. Gillian has received requests from Madison St. business owners to install meters? How many of these business owners are Forest Park residents? How many of them own the property on the street? As far as those at the BAH event at Grand Appliance-they were merely there for the free food, wine and beer. They are not your constituency. A majority of the charm of FP Madison street is the lack of metes, and the game of finding a free parking space. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

Richard Schauer from Forest park  

Posted: November 8th, 2017 7:04 AM

First time hearing about this....

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