A proposed $3.5 million downtown revitalization project is on hold due to a delay in securing state funding. But Macomb won't wait to make at least one modification to the courthouse square.
The city will remove the median that divides the inner rows of parking from the outer lanes and alter the parking configuration so that there are three rows of parking instead of four.
The median is in bad shape and Mayor Mike Inman said it makes more fiscal sense to remove it than repair it because removal is part of the long-term plan for the square. And Inman said this will serve as a test drive for the proposed improvement plan.
“We want to make sure that we have the ability for emergency vehicles to get around the square that’s one reason for amending the parking,” Inman said. “We are trying to improve traffic flow and lines of sight and minimize the number of back-in crashes at the site which have some frequency.”
Inman said if the parking changes don’t prove beneficial, the city will consider alternative routes.
Removing the median will mean a loss of 62 parking spaces on the square, a 20% reduction.
“There may be occasions where someone may not be able to find a parking space but I think those occasions will be very rare and in that case, the parking lots are rarely if ever full. There are places within in a block to park and walk into the square,” said City Administrator Dean Torreson.
McDonough County owns the inner lane of parking surrounding the courthouse yard and courthouse employees frequently park there on the weekdays. Still, Torreson said he believes there will be enough parking spaces 99% of the time.
“One of the issues that has been talked about in the past is that the people that own businesses and work in the downtown park in front of their businesses quite often or maybe in front of a neighboring business. If they are concerned about that they could park off the square and help themselves,” Torreson said.
The city estimated the work will cost about $125,000. Torreson said it’s money Macomb would have spent down the road anyway.
The city said it checked with the state and was told the changes will not hurt its ability to receive state grant money to complete future work downtown.
The median removal project will be done sometime this fall. Mayor Inman said the city will try to schedule it around events held on the square such as the Park and Cruise on Friday nights and Farmer’s Market hours on Thursday and Saturday mornings.