Following several Business Improvement District (BID) meetings during which discussion of parking improvements on Madison Street has produced more questions than answers, Village Administrator Michael Sturino presented a proposal to Forest Park’s village council Monday for a study intended to assess the parking needs of the downtown area.
The study is to be conducted by the engineering firm R.H. Anderson and Associates, Inc. The area of the study, according to the proposal presented to council, would stretch from Desplaines Avenue to Harlem Avenue and two blocks north and south of Madison Street.
The study would include a survey of existing parking in the downtown area, which would be broken down by block and by type (on-street, off-street, private and public).
It would also include a survey to determine the parking usage at various times throughout the day, including the typical weekday, weekday evenings, and Saturday afternoons.
Commissioner Terry Steinbach questioned why the survey did not include weekend evenings, which are usually the times when parking on Madison Street is most difficult. Sturino said the proposal would be revised to include surveys at these times.
Steinbach also demanded that residents be given a greater say in the process than they have been thus far, stating that at this time the process has only included elected officials and business owners and has neglected those who would be most impacted by parking changes.
Sturino said that he intended for residents to be “a vital part of this study.”
After completing its study of current parking availability as well as a land use inventory, R.H. Anderson will be charged with determining possibilities for additional parking, which could include new parking structures.
“If we need to have an actual parking structure, we want a study to justify that kind of expenditure,” said Sturino.
The village has, at least for now, agreed to contribute $140,000 per year to a fund for a parking structure, but the remainder would have to be funded in other ways. One possibility that has been suggested in the past was for some spaces in the structure to be sold to permanent owners.
Though no decisions have been made regarding the size or form of the structure, the cost of constructing a garage with 200 parking spots has been estimated at $3.5 million.
The analysis conducted by R.H. Anderson will include more specific cost estimates based on their findings.
The cost of the study, according to Sturino, will be approximately $19,000. Pending approval of the proposal by the village council, no timeline for completion of the study has been determined.