Commuter parking has been one of the primary concerns with the 5th Avenue Redevelopment Project for months. Naperville city staff presented their findings from the study at the most recent city council meeting.
And while developer Ryan Companies originally included no additional parking, staff recommended adding 250-400 additional commuter parking spots into the project.
However, council and the public had reservations, including that the demand for parking could decrease as auto-ownership has for millennials.
“And I do believe that in the not-too-distant future parking garages will become like horse-watering troughs and hitching posts on Main Street where people scratch their heads and wonder what they were built for,” said Jim Hill, a Naperville resident who also serves on the 5th Avenue Steering Committee.
Though the waitlist for a commuter parking space is up to 14 years, many spots sit open every day as people hold on to their permits as an asset.
“I completely agree that there is a functional issue with how the quarterly permits work and those spaces sitting empty,” said Deputy Director of TED Jennifer Louden. “I believe that if all those spaces were [a] daily fee, we’d be close to 100 percent full every day.”
Instead of adding new spaces, some councilmembers felt reworking the current system could open up more spots. That includes incentivizing public transportation.
“The cost of the permit to park is less than the cost of a bus ticket,” said Councilman Kevin Coyne. “So when we talk about trying to find people and incentivize them to take the bus economically it doesn’t make much sense to do that. It’s clearly far more convenient to park and if you’re going to combine that with the fact that the parking spot is much less than the bus ticket, why would anyone take the bus?”
Council directed staff to consider other options and to communicate with city advocate S.B. Friedman on this issue to get their opinion.
“I like the idea that you’re thinking of all these new ways of looking at it but this would be really a change to add that many commuter spaces to what we had been thinking about,” said Councilwoman Judy Brodhead. “And it may be great for commuters but I’m not sure it’s great for the other stakeholders in this, including the neighborhood.”
Council canceled its final budget meeting scheduled for November 26, as they felt it was unnecessary.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.