The issue that seemed to take up the largest part of the Platteville Common Council’s 2012 time came up again last week.
The Common Council voted 5–1 Sept. 24 to rent 13 parking stalls on the east side of Rountree Avenue on one-year leases.
The vote rents fewer stalls than city staff had proposed, renting all 27 Rountree Avenue stalls, and less than the Downtown Redevelopment Authority had proposed, 12 spaces on Rountree Avenue and five more spaces in Lot 1, at Pine Street and Bonson Street.
At-large Ald. Mike Denn was opposed, saying that renting any stalls meant “we’re taking parking stalls from people who have paid” to maintain those spots — property taxpayers.
City Manager Larry Bierke said city staff favored renting all of the Rountree Avenue stalls because opening part of Rountree and part of Lot 1 “could lead to additional costs, signs and user confusion.”
The council spent more than a year discussing renting downtown parking before deciding to rent Lot 7 spaces. At one point, some aldermen had favored renting 92 spaces in four city-owned lots. However, the RDA late in 2012 proposed renting out one lot as a test case.
The seven spots the city made available for rent in Lot 7, on the northeast corner of North Fourth Street and East Furnace Street, were rented earlier this year, Bierke said.
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian favored renting all the Rountree spots as well as spots in the Pine/Bonson lot, which he said was “heavily used.”
Kilian said the Rountree Avenue spaces “will be full or close to full most of the time through the school year,” used “by rental units … that’s my conclusion … they’re not for shopping.”
“Over the past two years the RDA has been regurgitating this discussion about downtown parking over and over again,” said Main Street Program Executive Director Jack Luedtke. “They would like to continue the process of phasing in some of these parking lots that are farther away from the core of downtown shopping.”
“I feel we have a plan in place now,” said RDA board member Chuck Runde.
“Why does the RDA think it’s conducive to business downtown by leasing parking spots?” asked Denn.
Runde gave a brief history of the RDA’s being assigned the issue of coming up with a downtown parking solution, noting that the problem appeared to be more about parking for downtown residents and employees than customers.
“If they weren’t available for long-term parking, they’d take away spots from downtown customers,” he said. “That’s what we wanted to avoid.”
Renting half of the Rountree Avenue spaces was the compromise suggested by Common Council President Eileen Nickels, who noted that students had asked the city to provide long-term parking for rent.
“The city is not responsible for providing free parking 24/7 to either those who work downtown or live downtown,” said at-large Ald. Patrice Steiner.
Downtown parking was not the only parking issue the council discussed.
The council is considering a request by residents of the city’s southwest-side Golden Heights subdivision to change parking regulations on the northern half of the subdivision.
Parking is currently prohibited on Reddy Drive south to Cadillac Drive, Kamla Court, Calhoun Drive, Manoj Drive and Amar Drive. But the owner of the only house on Calhoun Drive, Dr. Bob and Beth Smith, and several neighbors are seeking to change parking regulations to ban only overnight parking.
The council is considering three options — allowing parking anytime on Calhoun Drive, prohibiting overnight parking only on Calhoun Drive, or prohibiting only overnight parking on all those streets.
Reddy Drive resident Darrell Logan didn’t sign the petition and said he was “very happy with the existing situation.” He said he was “a little concerned about allowing students to park anywhere in Golden Heights, particular on Reddy Drive … they will park there all day if you allow them to do that.”
Golden Heights covenants prohibit overnight street parking by homeowners. “The unusual thing is the covenants cover only the people who live there,” said Bierke.
Police Chief Doug McKinley said it is “problematic” to prohibit parking and then allow excused parking, in that drivers on those streets don’t expect to encounter parked cars.
Meanwhile, the city’s Building Inspection Department report noted that two citations were issued in early September for vehicles parked on lawns.
“You could go through town and find 25 of those,” said Denn. “There are cars parked on lawns all over town.”
Community Planning and Development Director Joe Carroll said citations are issued when police see cars parked on lawns or if the police or building inspector receives a complaint.
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian asked if lawn parking enforcement had been stepped up last winter or recently reduced. Kilian said complaints about lawn parking on Southwest Road had been made last winter.
“There isn’t anybody who has the job of driving around town checking for parking on the grass,” said Carroll.