The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce has released its recommendations for how the city should mitigate parking downtown. This comes after the city council last week tentatively decided to postpone a vote on whether to increase the number of parking meters, virtually eliminating free public parking around the downtown retail district.
While the Chamber’s recommendations do not condemn the idea of metering more spots downtown, it says it wants to move forward slowly with those plans.
A 2007 study by Walker Parking Consultants, which the Chamber then endorsed, recommended adding metered parking downtown to alleviate the lack of parking during peak hours, and to encourage people to use the three garages the city operates.
Susie Johnson, Director of Public Works, says recommendations made by the Walker study have already been implemented.
“One was, to hire a consultant to manage our garages, which we have done quite successfully with REI, and branding the garages which we have done, and several other suggestions,” she says.
However, after Mayor Mark Kruzan introduced the idea in late 2012 to begin metering the currently free parking downtown, many businesses balked at the idea.
The Chamber met with business leaders and city officials last month, and that meeting led to the recommendations that were presented to the city Friday. While the Chamber still supports many of the ideas from the 2007 study, it says it wants to look at the situation a little closer.
“We applaud the City’s efforts to implement many of those recommendations over the years, and believe it is important to continue looking at metered parking in the context of a comprehensive plan that considers the full range of parking challenges and options as we address the needs of our community,” the Chamber wrote in a statement.
The Chamber is recommending the city council wait at least three months before voting on any new parking ordinance, and in that time, a parking study committee should be formed to look at how an ordinance would affect downtown businesses. It says it wants the city to increase the number of spaces available downtown, and look at how cities of similar size have handled their parking problems.
Other recommendations include increasing the safety and security of downtown garages, and another re-branding of them so people have a better idea of where the garages are physically located. The garages are currently named ‘Garage Band’, ‘Garage Market’, and ‘Garage Art’.