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October 22, 2013 | 04:50 PM
A public parking structure.

Nothing stirs public debate like suggesting the city should build one.

Rich & Associates’ preliminary parking study, released in August, raised the issue again in its chapter entitled “New Parking.”

“For Lake Geneva, the key question is whether the city should plan, design and construct a new parking structure for a parking demand that lasts six months a year or less. If a parking structure is built, it will not likely be fully utilized throughout the entire year.”

The report went so far as to suggest a possible site, the mixed public-private lot behind the Geneva Theater on Cook Street.

While the suggestion the city at least consider building a parking structure appears in the preliminary report, a more-recent list of recommendations from Rich & Associates does not include the parking structure option.

Nonetheless, the Lake Geneva Parking Commission is recommending that the city council at least consider the proposal.

The commission, which met Oct. 16, said the city should at least develop a request for proposal (RFP) that would give the council and staff an idea of the costs, advantages and disadvantages of building a public garage.

Dan Winkler, public works director, said he could get an RFP written that would collect the information the parking commission is seeking without committing the city to building a parking structure.

According to City Administrator Dennis Jordan, if the city council were to decide to move ahead with a parking garage, the city’s tax increment finance district could be amended to pay for it.

The commission also reviewed Rich’s recommendations, selecting those endorsed by the parking commission.

The recommendations also endorsed by the commission are:

n Create a full-time parking manager position. The installation of the kiosk system created unexpected problems and complaints. The city needs someone to deal with those issues on a fulltime basis.

n Increase the hours for parking in the off-street lots at Cook Street, Geneva Street and Flat Iron Park to a maximum of 10 hours. Increasing the allowable hours on the off-street lots will get those who are parking long-term off the city streets.

n Reconfigure parking at the Sage Street lot to add up to 24 more parking spaces; go to angled parking along the east side of the 200 block of Cook Street between Geneva and Main streets which would also add more parking there.

Mayor Jim Connors, who was also at the meeting, said more parking could be created if the city cut down four trees along the lot, but that probably will not be done.

In November, the Lake Geneva City Council hired Rich & Associates, Southfield, Mich., for $26,325 and charged the consulting company with developing a parking study and plan for the city.

A preliminary study report was released in August.

The parking commission conducted a public hearing on the study Oct. 7, followed by more comments during the city council’s Committee of the Whole meeting that same evening.

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