The push to reinstall parking meters in downtown Bloomington begins in earnest Wednesday night. A proposal going before the city council would virtually eliminate free parking from the downtown retail district.
The plan, which has the support of Mayor Mark Kruzan, would replace many of the 1,200 free parking spaces downtown with metered ones. Kruzan says the move would help offset yearly losses the city currently incurs at its three ‘pay-to-park’ garages downtown.
“We’re losing, a ballpark of $400,000 annually on those garages,” he says. “You have to pay them off, you have to maintain them, you have to pay to manage them, and even with the rates we are charging there, we are not able to afford those garages.”
However, many downtown business owners are not pleased with the new proposal. Liz Irwin, the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s Public Policy Coordinator, says she understands the city needs to make up for loss garage revenue, but doesn’t want it to make any rash decisions.
“I think our membership can appreciate their position, [but] we are urging caution, and to not rush into anything at this point, until we’re really sure what the impacts are,” she says.
But City Public Works Director Susie Johnson says the city has examined how the meters will affect local businesses.
“We have looked at a multitude of cities throughout the country that have installed meters downtown,” she says.” We have found absolutely not one store that has closed as a result of metering downtown.”
Wednesday’s council meeting will hear the first reading of the proposal. The formal presentation, amendments, and a vote will take place at later meetings.