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Downtown parking: A new group, and a new plan
downtown parking map 2
The downtown parking map shows in yellow the areas that would be converted to permit parking under a proposal introduced by Ald. Barb Daus Monday from the north (top), the northeast corner of Furnace Street and North Fourth Street, the southeast corner of Mineral Street and North Fourth Street, the southern row in the Pine/Bonson parking lot, the lot at Oak Street and East Main Street, and spots on Rountree Avenue.

The debate over downtown Platteville parking went in two different directions this week.

A group of downtown business owners has formed the Downtown Parking Alliance, with the mission statement to “assist with the development of a Downtown Parking Plan for the City of Platteville.”

The alliance wants the city to send out a survey on downtown parking to city residents, and plans to give the survey to downtown business customers over the next two months.

Meanwhile, District 3 Ald. Barb Daus, chair of the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority, unveiled a plan to take about 85 parking spots from five downtown locations and sell six-month permits for $30 per month to downtown residents and businesses. The leases at $30 per month would raise about $30,000 per year.

Daus’ proposal was unveiled during the RDA’s meeting Monday afternoon. It was scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, though as a discussion item, not an action item.

One of the organizers of the Downtown Parking Alliance, Lori Erschen Bahr of Erschen’s Florist, 10 W. Main St., gave the proposal neither an up nor a down vote. The alliance, however, is opposed to adding permit parking until the effect of UW–Platteville’s new Rountree Commons can be seen on downtown parking.

“We feel that we need to take a step back and not push it — do more collaboration together, send out the survey, get the results back, wait until the students get back, see where the problems lie,” said Bahr.

The largest number of parking spots in Daus’ proposal (see map, page 2A) would be on the east side of Rountree Avenue next to McGregor Plaza. The proposal also would lease half of the current 24-hour parking spots on the southern end of the Pine–Bonson lot, the 24-hour spots in the lot at Oak Street and East Main Street, and the parking lots on Fourth Street one block north and south of the Platteville Police Department.

“The question is how do we preserve the current parking that exists and is being used for the downtown,” said Daus. “I don’t know if those are the right 85, or if 85 is too much or too few.”

One reason for charging for parking permits, said Daus, is that “Without paid parking, we have no money for enforcement.”

One new option proposed at the meeting was brought up by board member Larry Ward, to use the parking spaces at the Platteville Aquatic Center, which sit empty between September and May when the pool is closed, mainly targeted at UW–Platteville students who live downtown.

“I don’t like this idea of taking out the city lots yet,” said board member Cindy Tang, who favored leasing spots on Rountree Avenue and on the lot at North Fourth Street and Mineral Street, after which the city should “start farther out … and look to expand more parking lots … even if we have to rent space and charge lease-holders for the space.”

Tang also mentioned leasing spots at the current Pioneer Ford–Mercury dealership at 75 S. Oak St. and at CenturyLink’s lot at 135 N. Bonson St. Pioneer Ford is moving to East Business 151 later this year. She said the city should “look for other spots that we can turn into paid lots through lease payments.”

While the first mention of the Aquatic Center spots was to give permits for free, Ward said the city should charge for parking there because “You don’t want to see old RVs and boats and jalopies there.”
Daus also proposes that parking in all other downtown stalls be prohibited between 3 and 6 a.m.

The alliance: Members of the Downtown Parking Alliance presented a position statement to the RDA Monday.

“With the community of Platteville experiencing considerable growth, parking in downtown Platteville has been impacted and will be impacted,” said Terry Schwartz of Martin Schwartz Funeral Homes, 100 Park Place. “We’re offering to get more communication here, and this is the first step to doing that.”

The alliance’s statement said that UW–Platteville’s current and proposed future projects have made “the downtown businesses feel that there is a communication issue in that many decisions seem to have been made, and continue to be made, without the input of the downtown businesses.”

The alliance opposes expanding permit parking south of downtown for at least the next year. “Permit parking to this large of a degree is very confusing and much education is needed for everyone to understand it. … With a second residence hall scheduled to open in August of 2013, we need time to evaluate the outcomes of both the new residence halls with respect to parking issues within the community before any additional changes are made to the downtown parking system.”

The alliance’s statement expresses concern that expanding permit parking will mean that “visitors coming into the downtown will become frustrated with a combination of narrow one-way streets with added permit parking or other parking restrictions in force. We want an emphasis on making our downtown welcoming and easy to maneuver, whether it is for local community members doing their routine business or visitors coming into the downtown area. We believe that once the word is out that Platteville ‘has implemented permit parking in the downtown’ it will be one more challenge to encourage people to do business in the downtown.”

The statement notes the proposal to develop the Pine/Bonson lot “raised a lot of concerns and questions about the process of this type of development. Members of the DPA want a viable process to be adopted that addresses future development with respect to providing adequate parking, before another project is encouraged.”
Bahr said the Pine/Bonson lot “could be one parking lot that we’d look at as a welcoming area.”

The survey: The RDA is considering asking the city to send out a parking survey similar to a survey that was shelved earlier this year, with a proposed deadline of Oct. 20.

The survey asks whether responders are downtown customers, business owners, downtown employees or downtown residents. It asks the responders to rank the degree of difficulty of downtown parking, and whether they would visit downtown more often if more parking were available.

The survey also asks how far as consumers or as residents they would be willing to park from their downtown destination, ranging from less than one block to six or more blocks. It also asks which kinds of downtown parking need to be more available, ranging from 15-minute stalls to 48-hour stalls.

The alliance plans to meet with Sen. Dale Schultz (R–Richland Center) at the Mound City Bank Motor Branch Aug. 28.

“We had businesses in our meeting ask questions that involved state issues, questions regarding development,” said Bahr.

The alliance wants to hold a meeting with the RDA, other city officials, UW–Platteville, the UWP Foundation and the UW–Platteville Real Estate Foundation to “discuss future development projects that would affect parking throughout the community.”

The alliance wants to hold a meeting with the RDA, other city officials, UW–Platteville, the UWP Foundation and the UW–Platteville Real Estate Foundation to “discuss future development projects that would affect parking throughout the community.”

By the end of the year, the alliance wants to be working with the city to “develop an ordinance that addresses parking for future developments in the downtown area.” It proposes to “identify potential grant opportunities for future parking projects/structures” after Jan. 1, and to have a “parking process for future development in the downtown area” by May 1.

The alliance is also seeking to have “at least one member of the DPA” serve on the RDA board and to meet “at least quarterly to review parking issues and concerns” once a downtown parking plan is created.