“…I’m hearing people park all over there, but it sounds like there is parking.”
By Brandi Makuski
Stevens Point Parks Commissioners have approved construction of a new parking lot in Mead Park.
Parks Dept. Director Tom Schrader said there’s room to add 17 new spaces on a city-owned parcel of land at the corner of West Clark and Whitney streets.
“There have been a lot of complaints over the years about parking from residents there,” Schrader said. “We wanted to try to run the bike path up there too, to get people off the streets because there’s no sidewalk there, but the street is too narrow.”
The park already has 38 paved parking spaces, with an additional “ten or so” spots available on gravel, he added.
Schrader said the estimated cost of the new parking lot is about $32,000. The city would absorb half of that expense, as city crews would begin work on the project. The remaining half, he said, would be contracted out. The funds would come from the city’s capital budget in either 2016 or the following year.
“It depends on what other budget items the city has to deal with,” he added.
Alderwoman Mary McComb, who was only recently appointed to serve on the Commission after being elected to the Common Council in April, was the sole no vote for the project. McComb said she wasn’t familiar with the area but had heard there was parking already available for Mead Park.
“I also have a concern, long-term, with…when you put in something like a parking lot you’re paying to put it in now, but long-term you have maintenance and upkeep, so I’ve got that concern,” McComb said. “I don’t know, I haven’t been over there. I’m hearing people park all over there, but it sounds like there is parking.”
McComb said she was sure the projected costs could be better spent elsewhere.
“I’ve had a lot of people comment to me that they never had a problem, and they would rather we put money towards streets than a parking lot,” she said.
Commissioner Jeff Bahling said there was a “big difference” between the cost of a new parking lot and street repair.
“We’re talking a million [dollars] for a street; it’s 32 grand to get kids to a playground,” Bahling said. “I mean, come on, man.”
Others on the Commission said the city had already committed to the lot in spirit when it purchased the property adjacent to KASH playground in Mead Park. Stevens Point acquired land, where only a foreclosed home stood, in 2014.
The City Council is expected to give final approval at its May 18 meeting.