Drivers parking in downtown Bloomington will soon have to pay for parking after the city council approved Wednesday an ordinance that changes the city’s parking structure. The council voted 6-3 in favor of the measure.
Business owners and chamber of commerce officials protested the new plan, saying it could have unintended consequences such as keeping people from coming downtown at all.
But Mayor Mark Kruzan says he is confident the city center will not be harmed and compared Bloomington with communities that have prospered.
“They have not seen their downtowns die on the vine and have in fact have thrived because your better managing your parking spaces, to the extent that it’s something different,” he says. “It’s an experiment. On the other hand it’s an experiment that’s been conducted throughout the country successfully.”
Council member Andy Ruff disagrees. He voted against the ordinance, saying the change to downtown is too dramatic and comes too soon.
“When what you’re experimenting with is something as integral to this community, the downtown is what really drives investment in this community, makes it attractive for people to come here, open businesses, spend money here, raise families here,” he says. “It’s really a driver of our communities vitality.”
Financial uncertainty is one of the reasons the city has decided to implement paid parking. Projected meter revenues are forecast at more than $2 million according to a 2007 report the city commissioned. The initial investment is projected to be just under $1.5 million.
Meters will cost 25 cents per 15 minutes. Free three hour parking will be available in three city lots and two garages. The amended ordinance also allows part-time employees to buy garage monthly permits for $25.
The mayor says meters could be installed as early as July.
The city will charge $20 for first ticket and increase it $40 if it is not paid within a week. Violators will be charged $40 for the second ticket received within a twelve month period. That will be increased to $80 if not paid within a week. Subsequent fines within a 12 month period will be $100.
The ordinance also requires the city to conduct a follow-up study of downtown metering within 15 months of installation, and the city must begin increasing the quality of parking garages, including safety, cleanliness and structural repairs.