December 21, 2010

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Anchorage Police May Relinquish Meter-Reading Duty

New Parking Garage in South San Francisco Seen as Economy-Booster

Retired Parking Meters Become Works of Art

Bob Hope Airport Raises Parking Fees

Lansing Township Plans New Retail, Parking Space Near Eastwood

Westchester County Airport Garage Draft Environmental Study Incomplete

Union Resists Hike in SkyHarbor Airport-Parking Fees

Nine Companies Submit Bids to Build Saint John Parking Garage

Greenwich to Introduce Pay-by-Phone Parking for Commuters

City Hopes RFP Adds More Downtown DevelopmentVideoIcon

Another Contract Between Fond-Du-Luth and Duluth Possible

Pittston Will Use Parking Revenue to Fund Memorials

Latest Parking Plan Rejected by Pittsburgh City Council


Nogales Parking Meter Accepts Nickels and Dimebags

Pittsburgh's Online Parking Search Tool Launches

Yonkers to Consider Extending Parking Meter Hours

South Bend to Pay $6.5 Million for Parking Garage, 1000 Jobs RemainVideoIcon

Higgins Beach Parking Plan Making Waves

Anchorage Police May Relinquish Meter-Reading Duty
Casey Grove / Anchorage Daily News
December 20, 2010

Anchorage police officers could be taken out of the business of writing parking tickets downtown if a proposal that went before the Anchorage Assembly last week passes the Assembly and is approved by voters.

Backers of the proposal, which would apply to a limited section of downtown, contend it would give police more time to commit to more serious issues of law enforcement. But foes worry about what they see as the potential for a return to overly aggressive parking enforcement.

Sworn officers have been the only ones authorized to write parking tickets in Anchorage since voters mandated it in 1997 after a vigorous debate that focused, in part, on whether officers' time was well spent enforcing parking. Only a voter-approved amendment to the city charter would once again allow meter readers to take over ticket writing downtown.
A proposal sponsored by Assembly members Patrick Flynn and Ernie Hall would put the question to voters on the April 5 ballot. The proposal delegates enforcement of parking violations to a city agency or municipal authority.

It's written broadly, Flynn said, but the enforcement duties would likely go to the Anchorage Community Development Authority. ACDA already processes parking ticket revenue for all non-moving traffic violations in Anchorage and manages city lots downtown and two city parking garages.

The idea of change has been percolating for a couple years, Mayor Dan Sullivan said. In late 2009, Sullivan trumpeted the idea to redeploy the officers, who'd better serve the city focusing on more serious crime, he said.

Flynn, Hall and the development authority -- on whose board the two Assemblymen serve as ex-officio members -- echo the mayor's opinion that it's too costly and inconsistent to have cops writing tickets.

The scope and geographic boundaries for the authority's parking enforcement would be much narrower in the amended ordinance than under the previous parking authority, Flynn said.

"It's really just where the parking meters are, which is downtown," ACDA executive director Ron Pollock said.

"It's kind of, in the past, been a lightning rod for certain emotional things," Pollock said. "It was overzealous enforcement, I guess I would say, in the early '90s."

PARKING FAIRIES
The parking authority two decades ago was described by some as draconian for its strict ticket-writing all across town for everything from expired meters to expired registration. The authority's size and influence grew and angered residents, including two women who helped set in motion the citizen activism that led to the parking authority's downfall.

The Pacillo sisters -- who became known as the Anchorage parking fairies because of their fondness for pink tutus and wings -- held contests for the best stories about heavy-handed parking enforcement and paid parking tickets for the winners. They also roamed downtown putting coins in meters.

Voters ultimately decided to give the parking authority the boot in 1997. The previous system is not something that the mayor, the authors of the ordinance proposal, or the ACDA want to see again.

Still, enforcement could improve, they said. And if improved parking enforcement means more spots turning over more often, that means more tickets.

"The aim is not more revenue; the aim is better turnover for parking spots at a lower cost," Flynn said.

Pollock with the ACDA said its employees wouldn't necessarily be better at parking enforcement than police officers, but more efficient.

"If there's a higher priority something, there's a robbery or an accident, and (the officers) get called away, of course they're going to do the high priority stuff," Pollock said. "So it just means that the level of compliance enforcement is inconsistent."

Lax parking enforcement leads to people parking for longer than they've paid for and a lack of available parking downtown, Pollock said.

"Then all the customers, who all the vendors and restaurants and shops want to be able to pull up to their front door, can't find good spaces, so they go, 'Hey, there's no parking downtown,' " Pollock said. "And the actuality is, there is parking downtown."
Paying police officers to write tickets costs too much, in terms of the impact to public safety and the cost of their training and pay, said Flynn and Mayor Sullivan. If enforcement is somewhat sporadic and officers are needed elsewhere, Flynn said, separate parking enforcement might be more successful at dealing with problem parkers.

It's inefficient for police to write the tickets and ACDA to process the tickets and manage parking, Flynn said.

"ACDA sends the revenue over to the cops, and the cops send a portion back, and it's a silly, cumbersome, bureaucratic, nonsense process," Flynn said.

TSA COMPARISON
But the problem in the '90s was parking enforcers on power trips and a bureaucracy that had to keep feeding itself, said Susan Pacillo, one-half of the parking fairy duo.
"I'm concerned about the Gestapo coming back in," Pacillo said. "You know, it's like the TSA. You give 'em an inch, and pretty soon they're groping you."

Downtown needs the police presence, Pacillo said. If there's a lack of officers elsewhere, that's a separate problem, she said, and when rookie cops worked the parking beat, they learned important customer-service skills.

The city, hard up for cash, put its police academy on hiatus, and there are no rookies now for parking enforcement. City administrators, still dealing with budget shortfalls, just want more money from parking tickets, Pacillo said.

"The whole thing's going to be about generating revenue; it's not about compliance," she said.

The theatrical Pacillos -- Linny and her sister Susan -- fought the parking authority starting in 1992. Their efforts helped cripple the parking authority, which laid off its staff following the 1997 vote.

Nobody from the old parking authority is still involved with Anchorage parking issues, according to Pollock, the ACDA director.

Linny died in November of 2007 at the age of 47. She suffered from muscular dystrophy and traumatic brain injuries from a car wreck. The Legislature named a 10-story downtown parking garage after her and gave the sisters an award.

Susan Pacillo is now one of the most knowledgeable "civilians" about Anchorage parking enforcement, Pollock and Sullivan said.

"They want my seal of approval," Pacillo said. "My general feeling is if it passes, it passes, but I'm not going to give it a thumbs up."

The current administrators of the city's parking spots are good folks, Pacillo said. Pollock is a "genuinely decent man," she wrote in an e-mail.

"But what happens when he is no longer there? What recourse do the people have?" she wrote. "Five years of fighting to rein them in? My worst nightmare is being 60 years old and resurrecting the Fairy Mobile. I embarrassed my children when they were teens; what will it do to my grandchildren?"

New Parking Garage in South San Francisco Seen as Economy-Booster
Neil Gonzales / San Jose Mercury News
December 19, 2010

South San Francisco leaders are counting on the long-awaited new downtown parking garage to bring additional visitors to the city's financial heart and help spur the local economy.

The $12 million, five-level Miller Avenue Parking Structure is expected to open in February, featuring 254 stalls as well as about 14,350 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and energy-efficient elements.

The project, at 329 Miller Ave. between Maple and Baden avenues, has been under construction for more than a year, but anticipated for much longer than that.

"It's been talked about by the City Council and downtown businesses for at least 10 years -- that we should have more parking (because) parking is very limited," said Terry White, South San Francisco public works director.

The parking will be free for the first two months the structure is open, White said. Afterward, motorists will pay for parking.

The city's parking district will use revenue from the garage to pay back the $12 million loan it received from the Redevelopment Agency for the construction, he said.

The commercial space has room for four businesses -- including a potential restaurant -- although no tenants have signed on yet, White said.

"That's a bit of a disappointment," he said of the commercial vacancy. But given the current economic climate, "I'm not surprised."  So for now, he said, the city plans to use some of that space as an office for its employees.

Maria Martinucci, chief executive officer of the South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said the new garage will prove to be a boon to the city. "It's going to be a great addition," Martinucci said. "It will provide more parking and get a lot more people to downtown to see what we have to offer."

Mayor Kevin Mullin echoed her sentiments, saying that the multifaceted garage should help revitalize downtown.

The project also comes as the city faces a potential structural deficit of up to about $6 million over the next few years.

The garage's environmentally friendly aspects include the use of recycled products in the construction, recharging stations for electric vehicles and an underground geothermal system to cool the commercial space, White said.
The garage is also wired for solar panels to help power the shops, lights and elevators, he said.

In addition, the structure incorporates pedestrian-friendly features such as a breezeway and landscaping to foster the idea of a walkable community in downtown, he said.

Retired Parking Meters Become Works of Art
WACH-Fox News
December 20, 2010

When you think of a parking meter, a work of art is probably the last thing that comes to mind.

But some creative folks are working to transform retired meters into a masterpiece.
The city of Columbia donated 125 old parking meters to WACH Fox and we gave them out to local artists.

The newly painted and decorated meters will be featured in an art show and silent auction called Change for Change Tuesday night.

The event will raise money for the city of Columbia Climate Protection Action Campaign, known as CPAC.

"The funds raised for this will actually be put into promotion to educate people into things they can do to make a difference," says Mary Pat Baldauf with Change for Change.

Bob Hope Airport Raises Parking Fees
Bill Kisliuk /Los Angeles Times
December 19, 2010

Officials have voted to raise parking daily rates at Bob Hope Airport by $1 next year to fund a legal battle against Lockheed Martin Corp. over who should pay for the cleanup of polluted groundwater beneath the airfield.

The fee increase is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between the Burbank airport and Lockheed, which once manufactured military aircraft at the site. Airport officials insist the contamination is the fault of Lockheed alone, but the aircraft manufacturer and the Environmental Protection Agency say the airport is partly responsible and should therefore shoulder a portion of the $108-million cleanup expense.

"This is a most regrettable situation, and we think it's totally unfair of the EPA to put the airport, the airlines and the traveling public in this position," said Dan Feger, executive director of the Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport Authority. The authority approved the increase unanimously.

Beginning Feb. 1, the short-term daily parking rate will be $31 a day, the long-term rate will be $10 to $12 a day and the valet rate will be $21 a day.

The change will push the short-term rate at Bob Hope Airport slightly higher than at Los Angeles International Airport, which is the most expensive in the region, according to the airport authority.

Bob Hope Airport's long-term rate will still be lower than LAX's, and the valet rate will remain as the lowest among regional airports.

Feger said his agency would also launch a campaign to explain to travelers why fees were being raised.

The rate increase is expected to generate $1.4 million to $1.6 million a year. The airport last raised parking rates in 2006.

In July, the EPA informed the airport that it was considered a "potentially responsible party" for cleanup of the contamination - including chromium, dioxane and volatile organic compounds - that occurred during the decades when Lockheed used the area for manufacturing military aircraft.

The EPA action led the airport to file a lawsuit asking a federal judge to order Lockheed to cover its portion of the cleanup costs.

Airport officials claim that in 1978 Lockheed agreed to indemnify the airport for any cleanup costs related to former uses of the site.

"Lockheed caused it. Lockheed should clean it up," Feger said.  Lockheed spokeswoman Gail Rymer said in an e-mail that the company has offered to negotiate with the airport over cleanup costs and has long taken responsibility for its former operations in the San Fernando Valley.

But Rymer said some contamination came from other sources. "A portion of these groundwater impacts are associated with a facility on the airport property that contained fire pits not created or operated by Lockheed Martin," she said. "As such, the airport authority should take responsibility, or pursue other potentially responsible parties."

Lansing Township Plans New Retail, Parking Space Near Eastwood
Derek Melot / Lansing State Journal
December 19, 2010

Ten years ago, the Eastwood Towne Center was just an idea. In April 2011, a decade after Lansing Township gave zoning approval for the "lifestyle" shopping center, the township will break ground on the next major phase of its development strategy: 120,000 square feet of commercial space and 1,300 parking slots on vacant land just north of NCG Cinemas. A fall 2012 completion date is the goal.

Borrowing $22 million via mostly tax-exempt bonds, Lansing Township is making a bold bet that the first decade of retailing success at Eastwood is the first of many to come.
Rather than just helping private development, Lansing Township, through its Downtown Development Authority, will be its own developer. The township will construct the store space, erect a 620-slot parking ramp and pave 700 additional surface parking spots.

"I think the township board and DDA board felt it was time to leverage the money for the very reasons why the DDA was created, which is to create economic development. I'm excited that we're finally moving forward," said township Supervisor John Daher.

Additional retail development always has been part of the township's goal. The so-called Eastwood DDA actually encompasses property far beyond the confines of the eponymous lifestyle center. The new project actually is a smaller version of a previous proposal for more than $100 million in development that would have included a hotel, a much-larger parking ramp and two 12- to 15-story buildings.

That proposal was meant for property adjacent to U.S. 127 on Eastwood's eastern flank. The new version is due north on property owned by Mike Eyde, who will lease the land to the DDA, which will then serve as the landlord to the retailers themselves.

Steve Hayward, who heads up the Eastwood DDA and serves as township planning director, says he has initial commitments to fill 61 percent of the space. The DDA will use lease payments, fees and special assessments to pay the bond debt and its obligation to Eyde. The DDA also will draw down $2 million in reserves from previous "tax captures" for initial costs.

"We have a belt and suspenders on this," Hayward said, in reference to the financing.

Caution Advised
Mark Skidmore, who holds the Betty and David Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy at Michigan State University, says caution is advisable for any agency relying on "tax increment financing."

This technique allows an agency to "capture" all or most of the taxes generated by new development in a specific area for reinvestment in that zone.

"People have to be really careful in how 'TIFAs' are used and what kind of developments they are used for," explained Skidmore, who emphasized he was speaking generally and not specifically about the details at Eastwood. "If you are not expecting a high rate of growth in real estate values," he added, "you are not able to capture as much money."

Center Not Immune
The original Eastwood Towne Center, owned by Inland U.S. Development, is the single most valuable retail property in Ingham County, with a taxable value of $31.72 million. But the center has not escaped the trend of declining values, losing nearly $2 million in value between 2009 and 2010, according to county records.

"There's a big concern that generally, commercial values are going to see a decline," Skidmore said. "But Eastwood may buck the trend. It is one of my favorite places to go."
Hayward emphasized that the Eastwood DDA is well-covered on its existing debt and that the new phase will stand on its own revenue.

"Anyone who does speculation (work) is assuming some risk ... but additional retail will only continue to enhance the quality of life aspect that Eastwood has brought to the region," said Tim Daman, president of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

New Stores Coming
Hayward expects construction, which includes rerouting of Preyde Boulevard/Showtime Drive, to take 18 months. One new retailing face expects to be here much sooner, though:
"We are actually hoping to have (our restaurant) open in fall 2011," said George Kurajian, co-owner of Florida-based Tony Sacco's Coal Oven Pizza. Kurajian and business partner Chuck Senatore already have a lease for the Eastwood location, part of a multi-store expansion into Michigan.

Westchester County Airport Garage Draft Environmental Study Incomplete
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy / Lower Hudson News
December 19, 2010

One month after developers of an airport garage on New King Street submitted their preliminary version of the draft environmental impact statement for the project, the Planning Board has deemed it incomplete.

The applicant, 11 New King Street Associates LLC, proposed a 267,000-square-foot, five-level parking garage, which also would require a zoning amendment from the town. It has faced considerable opposition in the past.

"The ball's in their court," said Adam Kaufman, the town Planning Board director. "The Planning Board has instructed the developer to respond to all of the comments and submit a revised DEIS."

Among the comments from the board are concerns about a statement in the draft environmental study that the impact and planned mitigation of groundwater resources "would not be significant."

"It is not clear how the applicant can come to that conclusion since the pumping test has not yet been completed," the written comments said. "It is possible that the pumping test program will identify a significant impact."

The applicant also claims in the draft statement that because the existing runoff is uncontrolled and untreated from the project site, the storm-water control measures and water-quality treatment features would, in fact, have a "benefical impact" on the quality of water.

The Planning Board comments also say the draft statement does not propose any mitigation for town-regulated wetland buffer disturbance.

"The Town Code requires that a mitigation plan be prepared that is twice the area of the proposed disturbance," the Planning Board memo said. William S. Null, the attorney for the applicant, said King Street Associates was looking forward to responding to all the comments. "We think the comments are fair," Null said. "We hope to respond promptly with a revised DEIS."

The proposal has fueled concern among longtime airport watchers and neighbors that the garage could lead to more flights and therefore more noise, traffic and pollution.

The impact on the Kensico Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to 9 million in New York City and Westchester County, is a few hundred feet away and a core concern of environmentalists opposed to the project.

The garage, to be known as Park Place and to accommodate 1,450 vehicles - has been touted as a solution to the airport traffic congestion because passengers will be shuttled to the airport and fewer travelers will have to be picked up and dropped off.

According to the proposal, a 9,700-square-foot office building, just outside the northern end of the airport, will be torn down to build the garage with a building footprint of about 51,000 square feet.

Tania Vernon, a member of the Sierra Club's state Watershed Committee and a Rye Brook resident who lives about five miles from the proposed site, has been opposed to the project from its inception. Vernon said that both the county and the state Legislature approved resolutions in the 1990s and 2003 to restrict any expansion or additional parking at the airport.

"This project is specifically to increase the public's access to the airport which has been increasing in size," Vernon said. "Although there is a restriction on commercial flights, they have been steadily increasing the number of planes."

Vernon said the need for extra parking has been a direct result of the increased number of planes. "This is something they have brought upon themselves," she said. "We urge the Planning Board to reject the idea altogether."

The draft environmental statement will be open to a public hearing only after the Planning Board pronounces it complete.

Union Resists Hike in SkyHarbor Airport-Parking Fees
Emily Gersema / The Arizona Republic
December 18, 2010

Southwest Airlines workers want to stop a parking-fee increase for employees at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Transport Workers Union Local No. 556, which represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants nationwide, raised concerns about the $10-a-month increase at a recent City Council meeting.

The monthly parking fee will rise Jan. 1 from $40 to $50. The increase affects an estimated 11,500 people who work at the airport, Sky Harbor spokeswoman Claire Stern said. A few hundred of those employees work for Southwest Airlines.

"It's a huge hike for Southwest Airlines employees," TWU Local 556 president Thom McDaniel said.

Various Phoenix departments have either increased fees or are considering an increase.  Phoenix Aviation Department officials told council members they will talk with union representatives about the increase. Officials said TWU Local 556 is the only union that so far has complained.

Nine Companies Submit Bids to Build Saint John Parking Garage
Reid Southwick /  Telegraph-Journal
December 18th, 2010

Nine construction companies are vying to build a parking garage in the Peel Plaza district, with the lowest bidder estimating the project would cost about $16.5 million.

The Saint John Parking Commission, which is funding the project, will review the bids early next week, said general manager Richard Smith, adding the submissions were "very close" to the commission's estimates.

PCL Constructors Canada, a firm with offices in Halifax, submitted the lowest bid among nine competitors, although Pomerleau Inc., the same company building the city centre police station, sent in a bid that was just $3,600 higher.

The 446-space garage is expected to be open in the spring of 2012, around the same time the other major Peel Plaza projects, the police headquarters and law courts, are scheduled to open their doors.

The provincial government will pay about $5.5 million for construction of the garage, about a third of the $16.5-million bid, and another $1 million for future maintenance. That's because legal staff and visitors of the nearby courthouse will park their vehicles there.

The garage would front onto Carleton Street, but vehicles and pedestrians could also access the building from the rear entrance on Sewell Street. Common council gave the parking project the green light in late October, signing off on the second-most expensive Peel Plaza project funded by the city, next to the controversial, $20.6-million police station.

The politicians agreed to borrow money for the project on behalf of the parking commission and left the arm's-length organization to oversee the rest of the work.
The city is subsidizing the project by waiving property taxes on the building.

Greenwich to Introduce Pay-by-Phone Parking for Commuters
Neil Vigdor / The Greenwich Citizen
December 17, 2010

For anyone who has ever left their car overnight in a Greenwich commuter lot and returned to a $55 parking ticket the next day, the town has come up with an alternative. A pay-by-phone system allowing commuters to add time for their space is expected to be introduced in January by the town's parking services department.

"If they end up spending the night (in the city) and don't get back, they'll be able to call and get space for the next day," said Allen Corry, the town's parking services director. Pay-by-phone parking will be available in the Island Beach, Horseneck, Soundview Drive parking lots, as well as the public garage at Town Hall.

The town is contracting with Vancouver-based Verrus Mobile Technologies to provide the service, which Corry said will allow commuters, shoppers and visitors to Town Hall to use Visa, MasterCard and Discover to pay for parking. Other locations featuring the firm's technology include Yale University and Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

A convenience charge of 25 to 35 cents will be added onto the town's parking fees for the lots, two of which offer $5 all-day parking and two of which have short-term hourly options, according to Corry.

The pay-by-phone system is only being implemented in those lots with electronic pay stations, where drivers enter a space number on a keypad and purchase denominations of time.

Corry said that a smart phone application to pay for parking is not part of the current plan.  Prior to Corry's arrival in late 2005 as parking czar, the town allowed the Greenwich Chamber of Commerce to experiment with a text messaging-based payment system for parking in the Town Hall garage.

Selectman Drew Marzullo, who came into office in 2009, welcomed the latest innovation.  "It's a great idea, especially for commuters and people who work in the city and want to enjoy a dinner there with their significant other," Marzullo said. "My only concern would be, how do we prevent people from taking advantage of it and leaving your car here unaccounted for more than one day? Other than that, it's fantastic."

City Hopes RFP Adds More Downtown Development
KSFY- Sioux Falls
December 17, 2010

The city of Sioux Falls is looking for proposals from developers to redevelop more of its downtown property. The city issued an RFP (request for proposal) to redevelop a parking lot and parking ramp that crosses the Big Sioux River.

"It's a really good time to issue the RFP and take advantage of all the exciting redevelopment that's taking place." Said Community Development Manager Erica Beck. Beck says the redevelopment on the east bank of downtown began in 2005 and was really jump started with the emergence of Cherapa Place and Eighth and Railroad businesses.
So far most of the downtown redevelopment has taken place on the west bank of the Big Sioux but Beck says the east bank was specifically targeted in the 2015 future study. "We identified the east bank area as a major redevelopment area for downtown and so we've been trying to support that the last couple of years." Said Beck.

The RFP is for the city owned parking lot but because the river ramp sits on a portion of the lot if the city selects a proposal the parking ramp would have to be demolished. Proposals will also have to include space for the downtown green way improvements but the city is pretty much an open book to whatever takes the River Ramp's place.

"Anything consistent with downtown redevelopment is really what we're looking for, we have a lot of activity going on, on the east side right now." Said Beck.

With downtown redevelopment projects in the works it makes the possibility of a downtown events center seem right at home.

The cut off for proposals to be submitted is February 10th and community development says they will announce the winning proposal to the city council shortly after.      View Video News Story

Another Contract Between Fond-Du-Luth and Duluth Possible
KBJR-TV
December 16, 2010

The city of Duluth could possibly enter into another contract with the Fond Du Lac Band, even though the band has not paid the city millions in court ordered casino funds in a separate contract since August 2009.

The city might have the Fond-Du-Lac band manage a parking ramp adjacent to the Fond-Du-Luth Casino, and the city would pay the tribe $185,000 annually to do it.

The city attorney spent several minutes explaining to the council why having the band manage the parking ramp would be a good idea.

He said the city would make more money off the ramp if the casino managed it. With the casino open 24 hours, the ramp would be staffed longer, creating more revenue for the city.

Councilors expressed some concern over the whole idea of entering into another contract with the tribe.  The Fond-Du-Lac Band has still not abided by a long-standing contract and court order to give the city part of the casino revenue in turn for operating in Duluth. The attorney says this deal has good working history behind it.
"There's a benefit for the band and for the city in the parking ramp and I fully anticipate the city to prevail on the casino case and for things to move forward," said Duluth city attorney Gunnar Johnson.

"The fact of the matter is that the working history indicates that they haven't paid us $6.5 million since August 6th 2009 and yet we're going to enter into another contractual arrangement?," said Duluth city councilor Todd Fedora.

The attorney also said the city would not lay off any workers with the parking ramp management change.

The parking ramp contract says it only takes the city 60 days to terminate it if need be.
The contract is for three years, starting in 2011.

Pittston Will Use Parking Revenue to Fund Memorials
The Citizen Voice
December 16, 2010

The city will honor two hometown war heroes killed in Afghanistan with monuments in Jefferson Park, funding the memorials with the parking-meter fees from December.

The statues will honor Army Spc. Dale J. Kridlo, killed by insurgent gunfire last month, and 1st Lt. Jeffrey DePrimo, killed by a roadside bomb in 2008. Each year, the city donates the December parking-meter fees to some sort of charitable cause. The statues are expected to cost about $600.

City Manager Joe Moskovitz called the decision, made at Wednesday's council meeting, a "wonderful honor for two fallen heroes."

"We can all appreciate the sacrifice of these heroes and their families," he said.

Latest Parking Plan Rejected by Pittsburgh City Council
Bill Vidonic / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
December 16, 2010

Pittsburgh City Council yesterday rejected the latest parking proposal to avert a state takeover of the city's underfunded pensions.

"It is time to go home," Councilman Bill Peduto told Alan Lazowski, CEO of LAZ Parking. "The city does not want this plan."

Under the plan from Lazowski, Pittsburgh Parking Partners -- a venture between his company and JP Morgan -- would pay $305 million up front to the city to operate garages and metered lots, and share with the city an additional $340 million to $355 million in parking revenue over 40 years. He proposed the plan Nov. 29.

The city must raise the funding level of its $1 billion in pension obligations to 50 percent by Dec. 31, or the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System will take over management of the funds for the city's 8,000 employees. It needs more than $200 million. Lazowski told council members they would have to approve an agreement by Christmas Eve in order for his group to raise the money to deposit into the pensions.

Councilman Ricky Burgess, who introduced the legislation, urged council to come together and reach "a great compromise." But before a 5-2 vote, with 2 abstentions, to reject the plan, council members expressed sharp opinions.

"We need to solve this problem," Councilwoman Theresa Smith said. "Quit playing games with everybody."

Nogales Parking Meter Accepts Nickels and Dimebags
Dawson Fearnow / Desert Living
December 15, 2010

For years, we've been hearing about drug tunnels running across the Arizona-Mexico border. But this latest discovery in downtown Nogales the takes the cake.

On Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents discovered a 13-foot-long tunnel that begins at the border fence on the Mexican side and leads to small hole carved into a parking space in downtown Nogales, AZ. According to officials, vehicles with holes cut in the bottom would park in the space, and then people inside the tunnel would push tightly-wrapped bales of marijuana through the holes and right into the vehicles. Sounds like the perfect caper. How could it have all fallen apart?

Well, it's probably a good idea to close and secure the doors before you start driving your van that's been freshly stuffed with pot. Turns out, agents uncovered the tunnel on Monday after seeing a suspicious cylindrical bundle fall out of a van. According to the AP, the agents began chasing the van, but the driver escaped on foot. The passenger was arrested and will face charges.

Pittsburgh's Online Parking Search Tool Launches
Joe Smydo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 15, 2010

If Cultural District visitors have an easier time snagging a parking place from now on, they can thank Bill Benter and his habit of running late.  Mr. Benter, a Strip District resident and president of the Benter Foundation, dislikes the pressure of trying to find a parking space with little time to spare before a show.

His angst led to ParkPGH, which, beginning today, will provide real-time information on space availability at eight parking garages in the Cultural District. The information may be accessed by iPhone application, a website for other mobile phones, a regular website, regular telephone and text message.  "The whole city needs this," Mr. Benter said.

In time, he may get his wish. If the pilot project led by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust goes well, the system could be expanded to the rest of Downtown, Oakland and other neighborhoods.

The Cultural Trust and its partners will launch the program at a news conference today.
When it debuts, ParkPGH will provide space availability and price for eight garages with a combined 4,800 spaces.

The garages are Theater Square; Sixth Street and Penn Avenue; David L. Lawrence Convention Center; Three PNC Plaza; Town Place; Grant Street Transportation Center; Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Sixth Street; and Smithfield Street and Liberty Avenue.  The first five are operated by Alco Parking and the others by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

In January, ParkPGH will add a ninth location, the parking authority garage at Ninth Street and Penn Avenue. At that point, the system will encompass 5,300 spaces -- 25 percent of Downtown garage capacity.

Software will monitor arrivals and departures at each garage and transmit the information to a central server. From there, the data is disseminated by Web and phone, said Marc Fleming, Cultural Trust vice president for marketing and communications. The data will be updated every 30 seconds.

Other cities in America and abroad already provide real-time parking information, often on electronic road signs. ParkPGH's planners said their system is more comprehensive and technologically advanced than most.

The iPhone application is available for free at the online App Store. The website for other mobile phones is m.parkpgh.org. The regular website is www.parkpgh.org. Information is available by land line at 412-423-8980. Users also may text "parking" to that number and receive parking data in a reply.

The system will give not only the number of available of spaces for each garage but also a color indicator: red (no availability), yellow (limited availability) or green (wide availability).

ParkPGH began taking shape after Mr. Benter shared his parking-related frustrations with J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Cultural Trust. Not only do other patrons dislike the parking free-for-all, Mr. McMahon said, but some eventually give up searching for a space and go home.

Parking "can make or break an evening," Mr. McMahon said, noting the system will offer peace of mind to those running late or weighing a last-minute decision to grab a meal before a show. The Cultural Trust said the system also will cut down on pollution caused by motorists circling the block in search of a parking space, "decrease the number of latecomers to performances and further improve the overall visitor experience" Downtown.

Mr. Benter's foundation provided financial support for the $175,000 pilot project. Other assistance was provided by Hillman Foundation, Deeplocal Inc., Numeritics and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Traffic21, a research initiative of Carnegie Mellon University, will evaluate the pilot program. One day, planners said, motorists might be able to both locate and pay for a space online.

The system potentially benefits 2 million annual Cultural District visitors and about 150,000 daily Downtown commuters. The first big tests of the system include the First Night celebration Dec. 31 and the winter staging of "Mary Poppins" at the Benedum Center, a production expected to draw many first-time visitors to the Cultural District.
Mr. McMahon said he hopes use of the system will become as commonplace as "making sure you have your tickets" before leaving home.


Yonkers to Consider Extending Parking Meter Hours
Ernie Garcia / Lower Hudson Joural
December 14, 2010

Motorists heading to the city's oldest retail districts for some after work shopping or dining better stock up on extra quarters.

The City Council is expected to vote tonight on extending the hours that parking meters must be fed.  If the council adopts the ordinance, which will take effect immediately, meters will have to be fed until 8 p.m. city-wide.

In most of the city's older shopping corridors where there is metered street parking, the current meter hours are between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Some areas near the waterfront and the Yonkers Raceway have metered parking until 10 p.m.

The city's biggest shopping corridor on Central Avenue north of Tuckahoe Road will be unaffected because most retail parking there is located on private property and is free.
The increased hours are meant to help local businesses, said Joseph Dalli, the Yonkers Parking Authority's deputy executive director.

"Instead of ending up with dead parking, businesses will receive additional turnover in traffic," Dalli said today.

The two extra hours will also bring in additional revenues for the authority, which collects the parking meters' quarters, and for the city, which issues tickets for expired parking meters.

Dalli said the authority proposed changing the city's parking meter hours after doing it downtown last year and determining that the effort was a success for businesses and the authority's revenues.


South Bend to Pay $6.5 Million for Parking Garage, 1000 Jobs Remain
Brandon Lewis / WNDU-TV
December 14, 2010

The city of South Bend, Host International and 1st Source Bank have reached a deal to keep about 1,000 jobs in the city. The South Bend Common Council approved the deal Monday night in which the city will pay $6.5 million for a parking garage beneath the 1st Source building.

"We are grateful to have both of these fine businesses in downtown, said Mayor Steve Luecke. "These really are our anchor tenants for downtown South Bend and it is because of their location here that others can survive and thrive in downtown South Bend."

The council had to approve the deal during this month's meeting because 1st Source's landlord needed to know if the company was staying by December 31st.
All of the money will go into upgrading the building. $1.2 million will come from the County Option Income Tax fund while the rest will come from the Urban Development Action Grant fund. Private funds will also be used.

The bill's future was not certain after it left committee with no recommendation, however during the council meeting the bill passed 9-0.

"It would have been a devastating blow if 1st Source and others in that site of the building had moved out if hotel, had gone to an economy hotel, or perhaps senior housing or some other use," said Luecke.

As part of the negotiation, 1st Source has agreed to remain in South Bend for ten years, while Host International, the owner of the hotel, has agreed to remain for seven years. There are penalties if any party decides to leave early.

"It's touchy when you have a three part negotiation and actually some auxiliary players as well because 1st Source doesn't own its facility, it leases from another company. They wanted to buy the facility, but couldn't reach an agreement with the owners," said Luecke.

The owners of the building will also maintain and operate the parking garage while under city ownership. The city has agreed to turn the garage over to the owners by 2041, although Luecke indicated he wants to turn it over well before that to avoid any serious ownership costs.

$8.2 million in construction will be completed in phases over the next three years, with the first upgrade being the building's atrium.

Host International said its franchise agreement with Marriott is up for renewal in 2011. If the deal had not gone through it, Marriott would likely not have agreed to allow the hotel to remain a Marriott.

There is no guarantee the upgrades will prevent Marriott from pulling its name from the hotel.

"It is our hope that by virtue of the proceeds of this garage sale going into the improvements of the hotel that it will continue to be a Marriott. In the event it's not a Marriott, and there's no indication at this point that some other hotel is going to be there, but we have to plan for these kinds of events, in conjunction with host, 1st Source and the city arranged for a list of hotels that will be satisfactory to all the parties," said Richard Nussbaum, attorney for the redevelopment commission, who added the hotel will be an upscale or upper upscale hotel if it is not a Marriott.

All parties said they negotiated in good faith to remain in South Bend, if terms were met. 1st Source CEO Chris Murphy said at one point during the negotiations its Board of Directors were ready to move, but he wanted to come back to the table because of the company's strong ties to the community.

If 1st Source were to leave other tenants in the building would have also left, including law firm Barnes and Thornberg and Merrill Lynch.

Luecke said 1000 jobs were maintained because of the deal, 600 jobs at 1st Source, 200 jobs at Barnes and Thronberg, 100 jobs at Host International and 100 jobs at surrounding businesses.

Also included in this deal were the final terms for the College Football Hall of Fame.
Luecke announced if the city could find a new tenant for the building by March of 2011, the Hall of Fame would close in October and would be out by December.

The Hall would keep $450,000 for local operations, but the city would not have to repay a $1.9 million loan it took from the Hall when it first opened. It would not be allowed to spend the $450,000 on moving expenses or anything related to its move to Atlanta. The 2011 enshrinement will be held in South Bend.  View Video News Story


Higgins Beach Parking Plan Making Waves
Ann S. Kim / Portland Press Herald
December 13, 2010

The Scarborough Town Council revisits the contentious issue of parking around Higgins Beach on Wednesday.

Up for consideration is a package of proposals that includes a limit on on-street parking during the off-season. The proposal to impose a 30-minute limit on Bayview Avenue has generated the most heat in the parking debate.

Critics of the proposal have been boosting their effort in recent weeks. They are collecting petition signatures and going door-to-door to urge residents to contact councilors, write editorials and spread the word to others. They also have a Google site called Save Higgins Parking and a Save Higgins Facebook page.

"This is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger as the word gets out," said Douglas Lund-Yates, a town resident who collected and turned in 500 petition signatures earlier this month.

The proposals were generated by the Higgins Beach Advisory Committee. The Town Council discussed them earlier this month but put off any decision as the meeting ran late. The deliberations continue Wednesday, and a preliminary vote may take place.
Town Council Chairwoman Judith Roy hopes for an on-street parking compromise the town can at least try for a season.

"I'd like to see a healthy compromise that looks at the quality of life for both the resident and the visitor. Whether we can do that is to be seen," she said.

On-street parking is prohibited from April 1 to Oct. 1 around the beach. Under the proposal, the ban would be in effect year-round, with the exception of 30-minute parking on the ocean side of Bayview Avenue between Pearl and Ashton streets during the off-season.

The committee made its recommendations after hearing complaints ranging from cars playing loud music to visitors changing clothes outdoors to public urination to lack of turnover in street parking. Residents presented a petition with the names of 253 residents who support a year-round prohibition on on-street parking.

Opponents, many of whom are surfers, argue that the complaints are exaggerated and reflect the desires of a small number of property owners.

"This is a small group of people that pay a large amount of property tax because their property values are higher. And they're trying to dictate what goes on at a public resource," said Ben Keller, a town resident.

Rodney Laughton, who served on the advisory committee, said there was never any intention to limit beach access. Two other committees studied area parking in 1980 and 1998 and each recommended that there be no on-street parking. Laughton said his committee's recommendation was an improvement.

"I would say to anybody in any neighborhood anywhere, 'If you had 5,000 people coming through, you'd want some semblance of order,'" said Laughton, a lifelong beach resident who owns the Breakers Inn.

Opponents note that some parking along Bayview Avenue was already lost with the construction of the seawall. They also worry that the parking lot the town purchased earlier this year will have fewer spots if it builds amenities like restrooms and changing rooms on the site.

Some say on-street parking at Higgins Beach should be expanded to mirror the situation at other Scarborough beaches, where the prohibition is from May 1 to Sept. 15.

Town Manager Tom Hall is expected to provide councilors with an update on the parking lot Wednesday.The town bought the lot with $632,145 from the Land for Maine's Future program, a matching amount from a town bond and $7,270 from the Trust for Public Land and the Surf- rider Foundation.

 

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