Without annunciating a rule or debating a policy, Saline City Council instructed city staff to begin implementing recommendations from the recent downtown parking study conducted by Rich and Associates.
Parking appeared as a discussion item on the agenda Monday. But council spent more time speaking about the credibility of the study of the study than the recommendations therein.
“I believe we made the correct choice to bring in an expert to provide this assessment,” said Councillor Linda TerHaar, who served on the parking study committee. “The quality of this report is what one hopes for when bringing in a consultant. I believe city staff should begin immediately using the recommendations. There’s very good guidance here. The report lays out time frames for recommendations. There’s a whole wealth of information and I think we should start using it.”
Councillors Janet Dillon and Heidi McClelland, who also served on the parking study committee, echoed TerHaar’s sentiments. Dillon said Saline residents might need to change their attitudes about parking to make parking work downtown.
The city paid $8,500 for the study. Holli Andrews, Executive Director of Saline Main Street, appeared before council and endorsed the study’s recommendations, which include:
- Negotiating with downtown churches and Key Bank to used their private lots, which are rarely busy during evening hours.
- Using privately owned lots for downtown business employee parking who purchase a hang-tag permit.
- After acquiring rights to the Key Bank parking lot, combine it with the city lot behind it, creating 40 new spaces.
- Maintaining two-hour parking in the current on-street spaces.
- Considering allowing long-term parking in less convenient and less utilized on-street spaces on Henry, McKay and Lewis streets.
- Reduce the limits in city-owned lots from four to three hours.
- Consider issuing parking permits to allow shop owners to park in two-hour off-street beyond the stated limit.
- Continue current method of parking enforcement, as the violation ration of five percent is not extreme.
- Purchase handheld ticket writers that can be used to record previous offenses and notify officers if an offender has unpaid tickets – which could be used in a graduated fine schedule.
- Raising fines for repeat offenders. Currently, fines are $10 if paid in 24 hours, $20 from 2-14 days, and $30 beyond 14 days. A new schedule was suggested. Courtesy warning for the first violation, $15 for the second violation, $25 for the third violation, and $35 for the fourth violation.
- Using a tire “boot” called a Barnacle to immobilize a chronic offender until the fines are paid.
- More signage.
- Maintaining free parking.
- Renaming lots to correspond with streets and implement new signage.
- Installing more bike racks.
Council did not discuss priorities or timelines. However, Mayor Brian Marl and Councillor Dean Girbach both suggested the DPW begin striping on-street parking spots.
“What we really need to do is have a change in attitude and behavior in this town. As we saw during Oktoberfest and Summerfest, people from out of town are willing to park on the street and walk. We need to get people to understand there is parking beyond the four corners,” Dillon said.
TerHaar said people have been vocal and emotional about the parking issue. She called for people to open to potential solutions.
“I would hope we would not succumb to the impulse to nitpick at details or criticize just because our pet solution was not the highest rated solution,” TerHaar said.