Despite a widespread acknowledgement that past attempts to bring valet parking to Madison Street have not gone smoothly, the village council voted 3-2 to allow caffe De Luca to offer valet parking beginning this Friday.
Patrons will be able to drop their cars on the east side of Burkhardt Court alongside Forest Park Liquors, and valet workers will park the cars at a location yet to be decided.
Residents and commissioners alike, however, expressed concerns that while parking is not allowed along this portion of the curb, cars often park illegally as people make a quick stop at the liquor store. The combination of the illegally parked cars, the valet service and the street’s regular flow of traffic, they said, is a recipe for disaster.
“Valet parking just doesn’t work on Madison,” said Commissioner Patrick Doolin, pointing to a failed attempt at valet parking at Francesca’s that frequently led to traffic back-ups.
“It’s a safety factor. I’m sure [caffe De Luca owner] Art Sundry would not want to have any casualties along with the valet parking,” added local resident Gloria Backman, whose husband, Steven Backman, also spoke in opposition to the proposal.
Backman suggested that Sundry and other restaurant owners who would benefit from valet parking explore the option of establishing a shared valet parking area on the south end of Constitution Court.
Commissioner Mark Hosty said that though past attempts at valet parking on Madison Street have failed, if the area is marked off properly and operations were run professionally, he believes it could work.
Commissioner Tim Gillian agreed, stating that if properly managed Burkhardt Court would make a “good staging area.” Gillian emphasized that cars would not be permanently parked on Burkhardt Court.
Sundry said that cars would typically remain on Burkhardt Court for less than five minutes before being parked by valets, an estimate that drew skepticism from Commissioner Terry Steinbach.
The Backmans, as well as commissioners Doolin and Steinbach remained opposed to the idea, pointing out that Burkhardt is a particularly narrow street that already experiences congestion problems.
According to Backman, the street has a 50-foot right-of-way, compared to the more typical 66-foot surrounding streets. He said that congestion and worse could arise when one car was parked outside the liquor store, another was stopped at the valet and a third was attempting to pass through the street.
A valet could not be stationed directly in front of the restaurant because of the bump-out which allows for outdoor seating.
Sundry declined to be interviewed when contacted by the Review.