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Public works doesn't object to Cook site



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March 18, 2014 | 03:58 PM
It wasn’t exactly an endorsement, but the members of the city council’s Public Works Committee had no objections to a recommendation that Lake Geneva build a parking ramp on the city-owned lot behind the Geneva Theater.

The proposal was brought to the public works committee by City Administrator Dennis Jordan. The city’s Parking Commission recommended the site at its March 6 meeting.

Michael Slavney of Vandewalle & Associates, Madison, the city planner, also endorsed the site.

That recommendation will be taken to the Lake Geneva City Council on March 24 with a request that the council either endorse the proposal or reject it.

Sitting on the public works committee are aldermen Bill Mott (chairman), Gary Hougen, Alan Kupsik, Jeff Wall, and Alderwoman Sarah Hill. Hill also sits on the parking commission.

If the council agrees to the site, city administration can move forward with requests for proposals for a consulting engineer to design the ramp.

No matter the council’s decision, before the city can build a public parking ramp, it will need to get approval from city electors through a binding referendum. All projects more than $1.1 million require voter approval by city ordinance.

The projected cost of a parking ramp at what is commonly called the Cook Street site is $6.5 million.

Mayor Jim Connors has said that he wants to get that referendum question on the November ballot.

To do so, Connors has said the city must have a solid design for the building and a solid not-to-exceed price.

Connors and the city council members pretty much agree that this will be the city’s last chance to get a definite answer from the public about whether the city should build up for parking.

Jordan said the proposed site was not brought before public works for a recommendation, but just for review and to learn if any of the members of the committee had objections.

None were raised. Wall said he thought a parking ramp of some sort is needed.

“This is a big public works project, so this is the logical committee to go to,” said Public Works Director Dan Winkler.

Nancy Russell, Walworth County Board supervisor from Lake Geneva, who attended the meeting, suggested that the public will require as much information as possible about the proposed structure.

“We need to start informing the public as soon as possible,” Russell said. “They’re inclined to vote no if they don’t have the information.”

Hill suggested that the city consider adding an elevator to the ramp.

Visitors going to weddings and parties at the Riviera will probably use the ramp.

“There’s no way I’m going down four flights of stairs in high heels to get to a wedding,” she said.

Winkler said an elevator will take out two parking spaces per level and add about $180,000 to the cost of the project.

A parking study done last summer by Rich & Associates, Southfield, Mich., found the city was short 350 parking spaces during the peak summer tourist season.

The consultants suggested the city build a parking ramp to handle some of the overflow and suggested the Cook Street lot.

Addition of the ramp would cut that shortfall by about 240 spaces.

Members of the parking commission have agreed that the design of the ramp must blend in with the downtown architecture.

The Rich & Associates parking study recommends that a ramp built in the city have an “office retail building look.”

The proposed public parking ramp site, just behind the Geneva Theater, is 165 by 172 feet, or 28,360 square feet or about 0.65 acres.

The proposed ramp would have three stories and four levels of parking.

The site was reviewed by engineers from Cullen & Sons of Janesville and Riley Construction, Burlington.

A preliminary drawing shows a ground level with 74 stalls, first and second levels with 88 stalls each with center ramp going up and side ramps going down and a top level with 79 stalls.

Entrance and egress would be off Geneva Street.

Estimated cost of the Cook Street lot ramp is $6,529,005, which includes contingency, but no elevator.

The ramp would total 329 spaces at $19,845 per stall.

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