Paid parking on Madison Street, a topic that’s come up many times over the years, will finally become an actuality. Forest Park Mayor Rory Hoskins and commissioners Joe Byrnes, Ryan Nero and Jessica Voogd voted unanimously to authorize a loan from Forest Park National Bank for the purchase of 34 parking meter boxes in the village. Commissioner Dan Novak was not in attendance at the meeting.
A loan from Forest Park National Bank, at 3.25 percent interest with terms to be determined, has been agreed upon, and revenue projections of the meters show the village “will more than easily pay the monthly note,” said Village Administrator Tim Gillian, who opted to waive a bid for proposals, instead using data from neighboring village Oak Park’s similar project. Oak Park put out a request for bids and received five. They narrowed the pool down to three, then tested the equipment of those three parking companies throughout town. Ultimately, Oak Park decided on Total Parking Solutions Inc. (TPS).
Additionally, said Gillian, since TPS has been in Forest Park for about 10 years operating metered parking at CTA stops and a few big parking lots, it’s natural to stick with them.
Gillian recommended a parking fee of 75 cents an hour, a quarter cheaper than most neighboring communities, which will be enforced Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“The notion of parking pay boxes has been on and off the table for about four years, maybe longer,” said Gillian during the village council meeting on Sept. 23. “It’s been considered a vehicle to create more revenue.”
Attention has once again focused on the issue after the village received a letter from the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce asking for meters or parking boxes.
“[The Chamber] has been having a hard time with businesses or individuals who park their vehicles in front of stores and leave them for the duration of the day,” said Gillian. It makes it difficult for shoppers to park, and the Chamber wants to encourage people — and make it as easy as possible for them — to come to restaurants and stores on Madison Street.
In general, said Gillian, the council has been in favor of adding paid parking on Madison street over the years.
“Within this council, we brought it up at a budget hearing meeting, and, both collectively and individually, I’ve spoken with each [council member] and gotten general approval to proceed,” said Gillian.
He is suggesting the parking boxes cover Madison Street from Harlem Avenue “all the way to the western edge of the community, essentially the tracks.” Metered parking will also be on Circle Avenue, from Harlem Avenue to Franklin Street, where a lot of CTA commuters park.
The current meters on Circle are “ancient,” according to Gillian, and it would be impossible to find parts to repair broken ones. TPS studied the area on Circle to see if it would justify the expense of the boxes and determined that it would.