by Steve Prestegard
The issue of parking, particularly downtown and near the UW–Platteville campus, could be said to be Platteville’s inevitability, like death and taxes for everyone else.
Two downtown projects — the Library Block project, with a new Platteville Public Library and Holiday Inn Express hotel, and the proposed restaurants and brewpub next to Steve’s Pizza Palace — with the potential to increase traffic downtown have brought back concerns over parking for downtown businesses, their customers, and people who live and work downtown.
The latest effort to address concerns before they reach the City of Platteville was a meeting among downtown business and building owners at Julie’s Da Vine Wine & Stein Thursday night. The 90-minute session was moderated by former Platteville Ald. Ed White, economic development program manager for the Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
Parking, in and outside downtown, is governed by two chapters of the Municipal Code. Chapter 22, Zoning, regulates how much parking must be provided in various parts of the city. Chapter 39, Parking, regulates how long someone can park in various parts of the city.
Before earlier this decade, the city had no requirements for downtown businesses to add parking for expansion projects, unlike in other parts of the city. Parking stalls are not required for existing buildings in the Central Business District (B-2 zoning), but since the early 2010s parking is required for new or expanded buildings to 75 percent of the requirements in chapter 22.09 of the Municipal Code in the Central Business District and in the Central Business Transition district.
The nearly 30 participants at Thursday’s forum mentioned these issues:
• The perception there isn’t enough parking downtown, variable based on the time of day and year.
• Employee and residential parking.
• Motor vehicles vs. pedestrians.
• Bicycles, both on streets and on sidewalks.
• Difficult parking near intersections.
Participants also suggested:
• Return Main Street to one-way traffic. Main Street was one-way from Chestnut Street to Water Street from the early 1950s, after U.S. 151 was rerouted from Main Street to the south side, until 2002.
• Establish a parking utility or authority governed by a parking commission to regulate city parking.
• Reinstall parking meters downtown.
• Improve signage to downtown parking lots.
• Enforce the 15-mph speed limit, requirements to stop for pedestrians, and bicycle and skateboard regulations.
• Establish permit parking south of Pine Street.
• Build a downtown parking ramp.
• Move the Platteville Senior Center to the Municipal Building, and build a parking lot at the Senior Center site.
• Eliminate 24-hour parking at the Pine/Bonson lot.
• Eliminate parking on Chestnut Street (Wisconsin 81) near downtown.
• Mix two-hour and three-hour parking stalls in the current three-hour parking areas downtown.
• Eliminate overnight parking downtown.
• Improve stoplight timing and install turning lanes.
A partial Platteville parking chronology
From The Platteville Journal archives
1927: U.S. 118 (which became U.S. 151 in 1937) follows Mineral Street, Main Street and Chestnut Street through Platteville.
1950s: After U.S. 151 is rerouted to the south of Platteville (now Business 151), Main Street is converted to one-way west-to-east traffic.
2002: Main Street returns to two-way traffic.
2011: The city downtown revitalization plan proposes redeveloping city-owned parking lots as combined parking structures and commercial or housing space.
Spring 2012: A proposal to build student parking at the Pine Street/Bonson Street parking lot is withdrawn by the developer. Permit parking is introduced in neighborhoods around UW–Platteville, including near the new Rountree Commons dorm.
June 2012: A UW–Platteville civil engineering study claims the city needs 2,113 parking spaces downtown, more than the 1,934 spaces located downtown. Of that total, 1,170 are privately owned, leaving the city 764 spaces it can regulate.
August 2012: A group of downtown business owners forms the Downtown Parking Alliance, to “assist with the development of a Downtown Parking Plan for the City of Platteville.” Ald. Barb Daus proposes taking 85 parking spots from five locations and selling six-month permits to downtown residents and businesses. Four-hour parking is instituted around Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.
September 2012: The Common Council tables a plan to lease 92 spots for 12 months for $30 per month.
December 2012: A downtown parking survey gets 917 responses. The survey indicates parking is not a serious problem for business customers, but there is need for parking for business employees and downtown residents.
January 2013: The Common Council votes to rent seven spots in city Lot 7.
February 2013: The Common Council changes the zoning code to regulate private parking lots, allow private parking space rentals, and require that owners of downtown residential property provide parking within one-fourth mile of the property or make a payment in lieu of providing parking.
September 2013: The Common Council votes to rent 13 parking spots on the east side of Rountree Avenue on annual leases.
September 2014: The Common Council votes to extend two-hour parking to three hours on seven downtown streets.
November 2015: The Common Council approves the Library Block project, which includes surface and underground parking. The Library Block project originally was going to take up the entire block, but members of First English Lutheran Church declined to sell a parking lot the church owns and shares with the library.
December 2015: Steve’s Pizza Palace owner John Patakos proposes adding two restaurants and a brewpub on the east side of his building, with the vacation of part of Jones Street, demolition of two buildings and renting parking to come up with the 30 spaces the municipal code requires for the project.
January 2016: The developers of a proposed student housing project on the block of St. Augustine University Parish ask to have the parking requirement reduced from 108, according to city code, to 62 spots.