Saline City Council was a little cooler to new parking restrictions suggested for downtown Saline.
In August, Saline Main Street officials recommended city council adopt two-hour parking limits in the city-owned parking lots in downtown Saline. The limits would take effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday. Main Street officials, concerned about the impact of the opening of Smokehouse 52 on the parking situation, also recommended utilizing more side street parking.
Council seemed fairly supportive of that plan in August. But when council met Monday, Mayor Brian Marl and City Councillor Janet Dillon expressed some concern.
City Manager Todd Campbell had earlier detailed some of the parking enforcement recommendations sent to him by Police Chief Larry Hrinik.
Campbell noted that police currently enforce the four-hour limits in between other tasks. At current staffing levels, police would not have the ability to consistently enforce two-hour limits, Campbell said. With 60 hours of potential parking enforcement duties, Chief Hrinik recommended a designated parking enforcement officer. Hrinik presented two scenarios. The first involved hiring one full-time and one part-time officer. The cost would be $72,23 annually.
The second scenario was to hire three part-time officers, each of whom would work 20-30 hours a week. That scenario costs $50,388 annually.
Mayor Marl said he had concerns with the two-hour parking limits – and an even bigger concern about the cost.
“Based on the numbers provided by Police Chief Hrinik, I’m not aware of how we can afford additional enforcement,” Marl said. “Despite our dedication to financial prudence, and our improved financial position, things are still pretty lean around here.”
Councillor Dillon said she put her parking plan in a fairly large file with several other parking recommendations.
“I’m surprised by how many times the council has flip-flopped on the issue. I’ve received a lot of calls from downtown businesses asking ‘What are you thinking,’” Dillon said. “I don’t know that changing parking to two hours is the best thing for the city. I feel we need to find another venue for parking to free up spaces for patrons.”
Dillon asked what it would cost to lease some of the downtown church lots.
Mayor Marl asked staff to reach out to the churches to explore the costs of such arrangements.
DPW Director Jeff Fordice surveyed downtown streets for other parking options. Campbell said there are options for more parking on Lewis Street. He also identified possibilities for on-street parking on West McKay Street. Parking on both sides of McKay Street comes with a cost, however. Doing so would require McKay to lose its “major street” designation and become a “local street,” which would cost the city about $1,500 a year in ACT 51 funding.