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September 03, 2013 | 02:31 PMIt would be up to the Lake Geneva City Council to decide when and how to increase its inventory of parking spaces, but doing nothing is not an option, according to the preliminary report of a parking study done by Rich & Associates, Southfield, Mich.
The preliminary report was released to the press on Friday.
To see the report, click here,
On Wednesday (Sept. 4) the Lake Geneva Parking Commission is scheduled to review the preliminary report before it is presented to the city council.
The report not only recommends the eventual construction of a parking structure on the city's Cook Street lot behind the Geneva Theater, but also recommends that the city institute programs that give city residents and employees special parking permits (for a fee). No cost estimate for a parking structure is given in the preliminary report.
However, the study says that the city must end its practice of supplementing its general fund with parking fund money. Parking fund money must be focused entirely on parking costs, the study recommends.
According to the report, the city needs to decide whether it will develop additional parking to handle the overflow that occurs during the peak season, or wait until there is a parking deficit during the offseason, as well.
However, the report warns: "Lake Geneva is currently at a point where the peak season traffic and parking issues are driving away local business customers to the downtown."
It also recommends that the five-hour parking limit per space on the street be reduced to two hours to encourage a more efficient turnover of retail parking, but increase the time limit in city lots to 10 hours to accommodate those who need more time for events, such as boat cruises, which last longer than five hours.
The city selected Rich from a group of three bidders in November 2012 to do a comprehensive parking study for the city. The firm's low bid was $26,325.
Rich studied Lake Geneva's parking system over a 16-week period.
According to the report, what the consultants found was that, even with adding 198 parking spaces on school property when school is out, the city is still, all told, 26 spaces short during the summer tourist season. However, cutting the deficit to just 26 spaces includes about 324 residential parking spaces into the mix of general parking, the report says.
The study does say that about 41 new parking spaces might be created if the city lot behind the museum is redesigned.
However, the city has 78 surplus parking spaces after the tourist season ends, sometime around Labor Day weekend, even after school is back in session and the school parking lots are no longer in general use.
Rich's study area was bounded by Dodge Street to the north, Sage Street and Lake Shore Drive to the east, Campbell to Wrigley to Main streets to the south and Maxwell Street to the west.
The consultants did a parking inventory on May 16 and 18, just before tourist season kicked in, and then on July 18 and 20 near the peak of tourist season.
What the consultants found was that the pressure for parking was so great during the peak summer season, that they had to go outside their study area to follow where visitors, downtown employees and business people were parking.
"During peak season periods the parking system is reaching full capacity," the consultants wrote. "This causes parking patrons to spill over into approximately 324 spaces in the residential areas which are not included in the parking demand matrix as part of the parking supply.
"Even with the addition of 198 spaces in the school parking lots what are available for use when school is not in session, the entire parking system is full and parking begins to spill into residential parking beyond the parking study boundaries. Peak season weekdays the parking system is operating near capacity and on the weekends the parking system is operating beyond capacity.
The study goes on to note that the current peak season deficit is 350 parking spaces, which does not include the 324 residential parking spaces.
Even if those 324 residential parking spaces are thrown into the general mix of parking, the city comes up 26 parking spaces short on an average summer weekend.
Through surveys and public meetings, residents living in the Maple Park area and near Main Street complained that beachgoers and downtown employees park on their streets, taking up spaces that residents believe should be for them.
Other complaints included not enough lakefront parking and parking rates for employees were too high.
During the off season, the report says, "finding adequate and convenient parking in Lake Geneva is not a problem."