By Brandi Makuski
Multi-space parking kiosks, parking permits and more timed parking could soon be in store for areas in the downtown and surrounding UWSP.
The city council on Monday watched a presentation of a newly-completed parking study from engineering firm SEH, which was hired last October to address growing concerns over parking in the city.
At the time, then-Mayor Andrew Halverson told the council parking in the city was, “getting worse and worse everyday…[i]t’s not going to get better.”
Gregory Finstad, project manager for the study, said SEH had multiple meetings with area business and residents to discuss parking concerns. The public was also invited to hear the concerns and see possible solutions during a series of open houses.
“The cornerstones of our recommendations are some multi-space meters [and] some parking facilities in the future,” Finstad said. a”We also want to consider permit parking for residents and for employees, some permit parking maybe in the Shopko lot, and also this permit type parking would go hand-in-hand to street use.”
Finstad also said the parking kiosks are computerized, allowing motorists to pay for parking with cash or a credit card. The latter payment form could be extended via a smartphone app.
The so-called “smart meter” parking kiosks first came before city leaders in 2013, but were quickly dismissed due to the $10,000+ price tag.
Additional parking problems could be solved, he said, by switching some of the area’s wider streets- to include Reserve and Isadore- to one-way.
“If parking is in short supply, you could change those to one-way streets and you could maybe pick up a couple hundred parking spots,” Finstad said.
Mayor Mike Wiza said the presentation was a means to open conversation for future action on Finstad’s recommendations- which he said would likely be implemented “in pieces”.
“I think we can solve parking problems and raise revenue, but that revenue is going to go for maintenance,” Wiza said. “It’s about $250 dollars per stall per year to maintain free parking, so right now, we’re kind of on the hook for that, so one way to help us maintain those streets is to increase revenue.”
Wiza said he expects parking changes in some form to come before the council “at some point over the next few months”, but did not say which part of the recommendation would be first to return for a vote.