Mar 02

Downtown Parking Plan Facts

Downtown Parking Plan Facts
I need to address a few comments made by my opponent that are false. I am providing this information so you can read comments made by both candidates with factual data versus random comments. It’s lengthy, but there is a lot of information. I will try to keep my personal opinions to a minimum and focus on the facts.
My opponent claims that “The recent parking garage plan is an additional $60k and is the third parking plan in the last 10-15 years. We need to quit doing parking plans and either take action on them or quit doing them.” Further, he states that “You (if you pay property taxes) have paid literally 100’s of thousands of dollars on plans over the past few years.” Additionally, my opponent states: “Are you ready to pay to park downtown and add $12 Million new taxes? Vote for Nickels and you vote for $12 Million in new taxes. Vote for Barry Nelson and save $12 Million dollars.”
A majority of these statements are false.
As you can see from the picture, the last parking plans that were completed by the City were in 1985 and 1992. There has not been a parking study done since then. I would argue that a lot has changed in downtown over the past quarter century to warrant a new look at our parking. We have had many internal and some public discussions on parking over the past 10-15 years, yes. However, over the past 25 years we have not taken a comprehensive look at our parking situation, but we feel the right time is now, as we are seeing increased employment growth, new bicycle and pedestrian measures being implemented, increased residential population downtown, and increased traffic during the SS Badger season – all of which have significantly changed since 1992.
The cost for the study will be $15,000-$30,000, not $60,000. I do not know where my opponent got that number from, but from all the firms that we have talked to (who specialize in this), that is the number we are using. You can view the entire public discussion on this item here: http://manitowoc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=449
There also is no factual data to state that you have paid “100’s of thousands of dollars on plans the past few years.” The largest plan we commissioned over the past 10 years has been our Comprehensive Plan, which is required by State law (and to be updated every 10 years). Certain criteria needed to be met in the plan and it did not address downtown parking. This plan specifically states: “In 2007, the City began the effort to prepare this Comprehensive Plan. This Plan will provide consistent direction for the City as it addresses growth and change, preservation, and redevelopment through 2030.” We have utilized many aspects of this plan, but remember, when this plan was finally adopted in 2009 we also saw the most difficult economic times in decades in our community. Some projects were pushed back, yes. However, this is a long-range plan to focus on certain areas of the city – many of which are in my 22-point plan – thanks to this plan and others.
Another plan, the Downtown and River corridor plan did not address parking and was partially funded by other means. I also utilized this plan to prepare my 22-point plan (specifically bicycle and pedestrian safety measures).
Finally, I have never stated, nor has anyone from the city ever stated, that the city will give free parking, or structures, to businesses. We have always talked about a public-private partnership to fund parking (as you can clearly see in the video link from above). It may be long-term leases, it may be each party helping fund. We won’t know that until we get this study done. You will not see $12 million in new taxes under my proposals. And yes, we will be utilizing information from other plans we have commissioned in the past for this downtown parking plan – as we always do – to save costs to the taxpayer.
My plans for downtown parking are clear and transparent. This is clearly the discussion we need to have to ensure downtown businesses have adequate parking for their patrons and their staff. I don’t see this investment as any different than building roads and infrastructure in our industrial park for business growth. Downtown has different needs than an industrial park, and if we want to see business growth there, we need to address parking.
If you have any questions, please contact me.