Possible city parking survey, study put on hold
November 10, 2010 | 09:27 AM
The city of Lake Geneva has had parking problems for as long as anyone can remember. Another two weeks isn't going to change that.
On Monday night, council members voted unanimously to continue discussion about a possible $15,000 long-term parking study until Nov. 22. Alderman Tom Hartz cited the recent receipt of a 1995 South Eastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission study as one reason to hold off on the decision.
Hartz said the SEWRPC study report was "thicker" than the city's half-inch-thick 2011 budget packet. He said council members needed time to analyze that study before making a decision on spending money for a parking survey.
The study is more than 80 pages and includes a detailed look at downtown parking in the city of Lake Geneva.
City Administrator Dennis Jordan said it appears as though the city asked SEWRPC to perform the study and it includes a focus on the city's central area parking. Jordan said the study includes off-street parking, traffic flow, accidents, any loss of business incurred by lack of parking, signage and location of available parking.
Jordan said the study includes recommendations and suggestions on how to improve parking in the city.
On Nov. 1, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Political Science and Public Policy Research group presented a proposal to perform a long-term parking study for the city of Lake Geneva. That study could cost up to $15,000.
Susan Johnson, one of the researchers for the study, said the idea would be to "get a sense of people and their attitudes about addressing the parking issues."
She asked whether residents and employees have different thoughts than merchants and visitors about parking in the city. In order to answer questions such as that, she said a questionnaire would be developed, the data would be entered and a written report would be presented to to the council. She said recommendations also could be made based on the preferences.
Johnson said the Political Science and Public Policy Research group has worked with the Janesville Police Department and on the Whitewater Master Plan. However, she said they haven't performed a parking study.
"We have no agenda," she said. "We just want to collect information in the best way possible and analyze it in the most vigorous way possible and let you make decisions based on it."
Alderman Frank Marsala said he believes he already knows what the people think.
"The general consensus is we need more parking," he said. "How do we resolve that? I don't see what all you can provide for us."
Johnson responded to Marsala. She said the survey would provide solid facts, rather than "anecdotal information."
Hartz had a more positive view of the survey.
"Depending on how it's structured, it's going to take the emotions out of the parking and gives objective data in order to make a reasonable decision or set of decisions," Hartz said.
Johnson said the city can ask whatever questions it wants on the survey.
"Our job is to analyze the data and give you what you want," she said.
Parking Commission Chairman Kevin Fleming said his committee was looking for direction from the council on whether to proceed with a study of this type.
A cost of $8,000 would require the city to perform the mailing and collecting of the surveys. For $10,000, the research group would mail and collect the surveys.
The consensus of the parking study during the Nov. 1 Committee of the Whole meeting was split. Half of the council was interested, while the other half wasn't.