Several members of the village’s Business Improvement District (BID) committee met last week to receive an update on the research being conducted regarding the lack of parking on Madison Street.
The village has hired an engineering firm, R.H. Anderson and Associates, to conduct a study of parking needs in the village’s downtown area, and has also surveyed business owners along the street to get their input.
Village Administrator Michael Sturino told the committee that he expects to have a preliminary report from R.H. Anderson within about a month, and the final study within 60 days. At that point, he said, “we’re going to look for the most productive ways to get the public involved in the process.”
The report will include recommendations for the preferred method of adding to the available parking on Madison. Options include one or more parking structures as well as additional surface parking lots.
Currently, the firm is studying the turnover rate for parking spaces on the street at different times of the day in order to determine the extent of the street’s short and long term parking needs.
“They’re going into this with no assumptions (regarding the best option),” said Sturino.
Sturino noted that the $300,000 grant the village recently received through the office of Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-4) for the project could be used for any parking solution the village eventually decides upon, not just a new parking structure as he said some were led to believe by a previous Review article.
Sturino also briefed the committee on the results of a recent survey of downtown business owners on the topic, though many at the meeting noted that they had either not received the survey or possibly thought it was junk e-mail and deleted it. He agreed to resend the survey from his own e-mail address to ensure that everyone recognizes it, and also asked Chamber of Commerce director Laurie Kokenes to compile a complete list of e-mail addresses for Madison Street merchants.
The first survey, Sturino said, was sent out to 71 people, 25 of whom responded.
Out of those who responded, 68 percent said they believed parking to be the most important issue facing Madison Street.
The businesses surveyed emphasized the need for short term parking, with 74 percent stating that their greatest need was for one hour parking.
Still, some said that long term options along the street are needed. Augie Aleksy, owner of Centuries and Sleuths bookstore, said that the two hour limit on much of Madison Street’s parking can pose a problem.
“When you have events, two hours is a tough limit. It’s a problem when I have special programs where people are there for a long time,” he said.
“People are not educated on parking at all,” said Kokenes. “Some people don’t realize that this might be just two hour parking, but over there it’s four.”
Just upwards of 60 percent of business owners said they would support the placement of parking meters in either a new garage or surface lot.
Meanwhile, only 32 percent said they were in favor of a Special Service Area, or a specified tax that would only affect businesses in the downtown area, to help fund the parking solution. Only 34 percent said they would favor a general tax increase.
Realizing that the survey results were flawed, the committee agreed to refrain from any further decision making until both a final survey and the results of the parking study by R.H. Anderson are available.
“I think at this point we have to be open to all options but without committing until we have facts and information,” said Art Jones of the Main Street Redevelopment Association.
The group will reconvene once this information is available.