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It's a ramp. It's a structure. No, it's a parking garage!

July 22, 2014 | 05:05 PM
So what exactly should Lake Geneva call that four-level box that holds 300 or more cars at a time?

Is it a parking structure? Is it a parking ramp? Is it a garage or an elevated parking garage?

Members of the Lake Geneva Parking Commission on Wednesday took a while to mull that over.

Commission Chairman Marty Smith said he is from the East Coast, and there they call those multi-leveled parking thingies garages.

Roger Wolff, downtown business owner who attended the meeting, offered that they’re called garages in Illinois, too.

In an informal vote of commissioners and anyone who wanted to pitch in, no one voted for parking structure.

Ramp earned two votes and garage took the day with seven.

So for what it’s worth, pending a referendum and budget approved by a TIF district joint review board, if they put the name up in lights, it will be Geneva Street Parking Garage.

Alderman Bob Kordus, who is also on the ad hoc parking structure committee, brought the commissioners up-to-date on that panel’s first meeting on July 10 with architect Steve Roloff of Arnold & O’Sheridan, Brookfield, a consulting engineering company, which the city council hired for $55,000.

The 11-member committee is made up of interested citizens, Kordus is one of the council representatives (Alderwoman Sarah Hill is the other), and Marty Smith, chairman of the parking commission. The committee members were appointed by Mayor Jim Conners and approved by the city council last month.

The committee was proposed by Roloff to help the city through the first phase in building a parking structure.

Another meeting is scheduled for July 24, and a final meeting by July 31.

The city is looking for a reliable cost estimate for the structure because it will have to put the proposal on a referendum for the November election.

All projects exceeding $1.01 million must be approved by city voters. Initial estimates put the parking structure costs at between $6.5 million and $8 million.

Roloff said that from the committee discussions will come a functional design along with a realistic cost estimate.

The city is proposing to build the parking structure on what is called the Cook Street parking lot. The city-owned lot is behind the Geneva Theater.

The proposed four-level parking garage will have an elevator at an estimated cost of $100,000, Kordus said.

While the committee wants to keep costs in line, it also wants a building that won’t offend the eye.

“We don’t want to have a utilitarian parking structure,” said Kordus. He said the committee is pushing for a user-friendly elevated parking garage. There was talk about a sailboat decoration on one of the walls of the parking structure, scooter parking and perhaps even recharge stations for electric or hybrid cars.

However, while user-friendly in terms of parking and safety, the committee drew the line at restrooms in the structure. While the committee members acknowledged a shortage of toilet facilities in the downtown, they determined that the parking structure would not be a solution to that problem. Roloff also said he wouldn’t recommend restrooms for the parking garage.

However, the prospect of mixing parking and potties may not be dead.

Todd Krause asked his fellow parking commissioners not to reject restrooms out of hand.

Krause said most of the parking structures he’s aware of have bathroom facilities.

“You come into a town after a long drive and the first thing you’re looking for is a restroom,” he said.

Kordus said the ad hoc committee pretty much ruled out a restroom on security concerns.

It would also add to the cost of the structure, he said.

Still, Krause argued, the city is packing 300 cars and their contents into a small space. Some consideration should be made for the drivers’ and passengers’ needs, he said.

“It’s something you should consider,” he said of the restrooms.

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