Winn. Co. & Rockford leaders clash on parking problem downtown - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Winn. Co. & Rockford leaders clash on parking problem downtown

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Winnebago County leaders need space from Rockford. Parking space. City staff members want to help, but they'll have to drive up prices first.

In summer 2012, city employees closed off roughly half of the Concourse parking garage, near Church and Elm Streets. Parts of the structure aren't safe. Its still shut down. The garage is attached to Winnebago County's Administration building.

"That's had a dramatic impact down here as it relates to people coming down to pay taxes. We have on Mondays and Tuesdays, 150 to 200 jurors that have to park, it's had a dramatic impact there, our employees it had an impact on."

Almost 400 Concourse spots sit empty each day. County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen says his employees used most of those when the spots were open. Now, everything's moved down a couple levels, leaving less room in the Concourse. Rockford city leaders say they recognize the loss.

"We would love to have those spaces back." -says City of Rockford Traffic Engineer Jeremy Carter.

But, overall, they don't see a parking problem downtown.

"Everyday, there are 500 spaces that go unused across the street from the Coronado because people are choosing not to walk. Those spaces are available and we would absolutely love to rent them." -Carter says.

Despite the three other downtown parking decks available, city staff is still looking at fixing the Concourse. Carter says building a brand new garage makes the most financial sense, but the project comes with an $18 million to $20 million price tag.

"That cost needs to be paid for somewhere. There's no such thing as free parking, so either the taxpayers pay for it or the users pay for it. We are trying to have it as a user-driven system and trying to pass those prices onto the users." -Carter explains.

That's why the county could soon pay more to park. Currently, the city leases 333 spaces to county government, charging $22 a month for each spot, but Carter says market price is around $60 a month. There's talk of the city charging the county market price come January 1st, 2014.

"The city has reached out with a willingness to negotiate on that so that's good news. We'll be meeting I think the week after Thanksgiving." -Chairman Christiansen says.

Along with monthly fees increasing, parking garage hourly rates could as well. City staff members released a draft of possible new parking fees. The draft still needs city council's approval.

Parking Garage daily parking fees

1. Church South Deck (Deck S), State West Deck (Deck L), and Wyman South Deck (Deck B) parking fees will be as follows:

Less than 2 hours $5.00 Less than 3 hours $6.50

Less than 4 hours $8.00 Less than 5 hours $9.50

Less than 6 hours $11.00 Less than 24 hours $12.50

2. Main North Deck (Deck Y) parking fees will be as follows:

Less than 2 hours $2.50 Less than 3 hours $3.25

Less than 4 hours $4.00 Less than 5 hours $4.75

Less than 6 hours $5.50 Less than 24 hours $6.25

Parking garage and parking lots monthly parking fees

1. Deck Y $49 per month

2. Decks B, L, S and T-L $60 per month

3. Surface Parking Lot Fees (Lots AM, D, N, Q, R, SS, T-U, & TT) $49 per month

4. Surface Parking Lot Fees (Lots A, C, EE, F, H, HH, J, M, V, X, & Ingersoll) $20 per month

Residential parking space for persons with disabilities, $25

Residential parking sticker, $120 a year

Daily parking permit for the purpose of parking a vehicle of placing a dumpster on a street, alley, the city downtown mall or city parking lots per designated space: On streets or city parking lots, $6 per day, excluding Sundays and Federal Holidays.

Lost Parking Deck Card Replacement Fees, $25.

Lost surface lot permit replacement fee, $10.

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