Parking Studied in Galesburg, Burlington
A downtown district's success depends a lot on whether people can easily access its retail shops and restaurants. A couple local cities are taking steps to make sure anyone who wants to visit their downtown districts can find a place to park.
Quite a few business owners in downtown Galesburg are worried they are losing customers because too many non-customers are using the parking spaces in front of their businesses along Main Street or several connecting side streets.
The shop owners recently met with city staff to talk about ways to keep this from happening.
Wayne Carl, Public Works Director, said the meeting went well. He said the participants openly discussed the issue and completed a survey that will be used as solutions are sought.
Carl believes the participants were able to reach a consensus on several ideas, including posting signs along Main Street.
"Putting restrictions in for certain times of the weekday," said Carl. "So it would be like 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., weekdays only. It would only be customer parking allowed on Main Street or the side streets one block away from Main."
Carl said the participants also supported the idea of limiting parking to two hours in these areas, but were not as keen on parking meters being placed along Main Street.
No matter what option is developed to open up parking spaces along Main Street, Carl said enforcement would be a challenge.
"We talked about that, and [the business owners] recognized that funding is going to be an issue," said Carl. "That’s going to have to factor into our solution if we put up signs."
Carl believes a proposal to address Main Street parking could come before the Galesburg City Council as early as next month.
Zach James with the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission said there are about 3,800 parking spaces in downtown Burlington. He said that amount surprised him.
"I don’t know what I was expecting, but it seemed like a lot," said James. "I don’t know how it compares to other communities, we haven’t really looked at the comparison to other places, so compared to others, I don’t know if that was high or low, but just from what I was expecting, it was higher than what I expected.”
James said the tally was done as part of a parking study that's now underway. He said the study, which was commissioned by the city and Downtown Partners, will be the first of its kind in 17 years. It comes at a time of residential and commercial growth in the downtown district.
James said staff and volunteers have already been counting spaces, tracking how long spaces are used, and identifying hidden spaces where parking is not allowed but easily could be. He said having this information on hand would help the city plan for the future as well as help current and future developers secure much needed funding for projects.
"There are people looking to do redevelopment, and getting funding for their project was contingent to having a plan for parking," said James.
James said the study will identify if Burlington has enough downtown parking or if more spaces are needed. It will also provide methods for adding spaces, including a downtown parking garage, more public lots, zoning code changes, or shifting parking from parallel to angular.
The next step in the data collection will be the release of a survey for downtown business owners and residents to gather their input on the parking situation.
James hopes to wrap up the study early next year.