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From its beginnings in 1962 to today's organization that connects parking professionals from around the world, IPI's story parallels the increasingly important role of cars and other vehicles in our daily lives.
In 1948, the Detroit Municipal Parking Authority was established, and John D. McGillis was appointed the first director. McGillis was at a loss as to how to go about solving the city's worsening parking problems, which had resulted in numerous lawsuits, public and private meetings, and debates over what to do about parking.
In 1953, McGillis met with Detroit's Mayor and the City Council and received their concurrence to approach the American Municipal Association (AMA) in Chicago to ask for their help. The AMA, which later changed its name to the National League of Cities (NLC), was eager to help solve municipal problems. That summer, McGillis met with the AMA's executive director, Carl Chatters. Chatters was receptive and proved to be an effective ally. He offered the limited resources of his office and, working with McGillis, assembled material for a meeting with AMA's president, Mayor William H. Kemp of Kansas City. As a result, AMA formed a committee on parking, consisting primarily of mayors, elected city officials, town engineers and city traffic engineers.
The committee went to work to develop a municipal parking policy. Their new policy proclaimed that parking was the responsibility of the municipality, which should take every step to deal with the issue through systematic study, acquisition and construction along with operation and management. The policy report was reviewed by the complete committee, which recommended that it be forwarded to the AMA's general membership for approval. The report also suggested that the parking committee conduct research, study, and analysis of the cost of off-street parking and study the experiences of municipalities. Each member of the committee agreed to compile a description of the parking experiences of several municipalities in his section of the country.
By now parking had become a hot topic at the AMA Annual Congress. Speakers at these meetings included city traffic engineers and transit officials. Even with two concurrent parking sessions at the AMA Annual Congress, the attendance was standing room only. At the next committee meeting, McGillis proposed that a workshop should be held the following year and that several days would be devoted to the discussion of parking. This idea was uniformly applauded.
From then on, things moved fast. A program was prepared and invitations sent out. It was called the First International Workshop Meeting and was held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Detroit, cosponsored by the Detroit Parking Authority, October 22-23, 1956. A number of parking authorities sent their executive directors, parking commissioners and authority members as well as elected and appointed public officials. The meeting lasted for two days and included a number of panel discussions, seminars and round table discussions. Today's parking professionals would likely find the subjects they discussed to be elementary.
By 1960, at the annual AMA Congress meeting in New York, McGillis called a separate dinner meeting of a number of active members. He and the others determined that interest in a separate organization was growing and the time had arrived to consider breaking off from the American Municipal Association. AMA's sponsorship and support were well noted but the members felt that the time had come to establish an organization with a sole focus on parking―one dedicated to providing information and research regarding the parking industry.
Thus, in 1962, what was then called the Institutional and Municipal Parking Congress was formed. The chairmen that were appointed to the first Congress were Vining Fisher, director of the San Francisco Parking Authority; Robert G. Bundy, general manager of the Toronto Parking authority; and Jim Hunnicutt, director of parking, Nashville, TN. These pioneers defined the purpose and goals of IMPC through the creation of a constitution and bylaws.
Following the conception of IMPC, a number of professionals in the field took an active role in forming the Congress. These founders included: John D. McGillis, Robert J. Kelly, Louis P. Farina, Merritt A. Neale, Edward A. Jochumsen, Fenton G. Jordan, Walter King, Thomas J. Coyle, H. H. Dees and Arthur Lomax.
In 1995, as parking took on a more significant role and organizations realized the impact of parking in their operations, the association name was updated to the International Parking Institute (IPI). This name change reflected a new scope and direction for the association as well as the formation of a network to connect parking professionals from all around the world. The number of members has grown but the purpose of IPI remains much the same as it was when it was first founded: To provide leadership, information, education, and networking opportunities to all members of the parking industry.