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Council denies free parking for sidewalk sale

Hill (click for larger version)
Jordan (click for larger version)
August 12, 2014 | 11:26 AM
Roger Wolff, downtown business owner, brought his request for free parking during Maxwell Street Days to the city council on Monday.

Wolff said his request is part of an effort to convince Lake Geneva residents to come back to the downtown to shop.

“We’re getting comments from people about the perceptions of parking problems,” Wolff told the council. “This is an opportunity to tell them we want them to come back to shop.”

He also brought a petition with the signatures of 49 downtown business owners urging the council to approve the free parking for the Aug. 22 to 24 sidewalk sale.

But the council members were not in the market.

On a 5-2 vote, the council decided to keep parking regulations in place, at least for this year.

Alderwomen Sarah Hill and Elizabeth Chappell voted to alter the parking rules for Maxwell Street Days. The majority’s decision may well have been swayed by a memo from City Administrator Dennis Jordan.

The major concern is that the city would lose out on between $25,000 and $30,000 in revenue by turning the downtown parking into a freebie for those three days, Jordan wrote.

That loss in revenue, coupled with lagging beach revenues because of the unseasonably cool weather, might cause the two funds to fall short of projected budget figures, Jordan warned.

“I know this is not a wildly popular position, but I am with the downtown business people on this,” said Hill. She said the downtown is losing the business of city residents, particularly during the summer. Parking is one of the reasons.

On the other hand, Hill said she might not be in favor of giving the businesses free parking for all three days.

“It’s a shame that this won’t be approved this year,” she added.

“I’m totally against giving away taxpayers’ dollars to the tune of $25,000,” said Alderman Jeff Wall.

Alderman Bob Kordus agreed that three days of free parking was too much. And he said he didn’t believe that free parking would bring city residents to the downtown to shop. Mayor Jim Connors said he didn’t believe in the free parking proposal, either. The downtown has a shortage of parking, and allowing people to take up a parking space for 10 hours free doesn’t help circulate traffic and free up parking spaces, he said.

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