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November 27, 2012 | 04:33 PM
In early 2013, a Michigan consultant will begin a survey of supply and demand for one of the city's most valuable commodities ­— parking.

The study will lead to a report showing the city's parking needs and set goals to create a more efficient parking system.

On Monday, the Lake Geneva City Council voted to hire Rich & Associates Inc. of Southfield, Mich., for $26,500 to do a parking study for the city.

Included in the contract offer is a requirement that the city council approve any expenditures over $26,500.

Proposed solutions will go beyond building more parking lots, and examine the use of alternate transportation, such as vanpooling, shuttles and encouraging more nonmotorized forms of transportation, such as bicycles.

On May 29, the city council voted to direct the parking commission to solicit proposals for a parking needs study.

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The proposals were issued Sept. 6 with a deadline of Oct. 5.

On Nov. 1, the parking commission members met with representatives of three companies that submitted proposals. The parking commission unanimously recommended Rich at its Nov. 20 meeting.

Rich & Associates offered their services for $26,500. The company does parking studies for municipalities and private companies. Rich's fee will be paid out of the parking fund.

The other two companies to submit proposals were Walker Parking Consultants, Elgin, Ill., for $32,950, and Desman Associates, Chicago, for $44,820.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the contract, with Alderman Don Tolar casting the only vote against. Alderman Jeff Wall was absent.

Not all of the council members were immediately on board with the proposal.

Alderwoman Arleen Krohn said she was concerned that the $26,500 was not "locked in." She said the city could wind up spending $50,000.

City Administrator Dennis Jordan said the city council would have to approve any increases in the cost of the project, but the council added an amendment requiring council approval for any expenditures above $26,500 in the parking study. "We've had parking studies in the past," said Alderman William Mott. "What are we going to gain now that we didn't get in the past?" Alderman Gary Haugen replied that the last parking study, by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) was done in 1996, and conditions have changed in the last 16 years.

"If we add 1,000 new homes and businesses at one end of town, what impact would that have on parking?" asked Haugen. "Where are we going to put those 1,000 extra cars? Is gridlock inevitable, or is there a cure?"

Mayor Jim Connors added that the study will include an evaluation of how the city manages its parking system.

He added that two more city parking lots are in use that were not in use during the 1996.

Alderwoman Sarah Hill said the consultant's recommendations will involve a "toolbox" of alternatives from which the city can choose to develop its solutions.

According to the proposal submitted by Rich, parking use analyses will be done in May and again in July.

n The study process will include public meetings.

n On-street and off-street inventories of cars parked and moving will be done to determine needs.

n User surveys will be distributed to businesses, employees, residents and visitors to determine their needs.

n Parking demands will be determined on a block-by-block basis.

n Parking demands in the future will be calculated.

n Parking inventories will include both public and privately-owned parking.

n Parking use will include inventory of parking citations issued.

n Parking space inventory will include characteristics of parking areas and lots, including lighting, traffic circulation, surface conditions and signage.

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