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Addressing this week's AALT conference in Sydney, the director of asset management at Budapest Airport, Dr Peter Pounglas, delivered an insightful look at airport parking issues in Europe,
He said, for example, that "if my meeting is at the airport then I fly, but if it's in the city then I take the train"; highlighting the fact that rail is becoming even more a competitor for airlines and airports.
And while the situation is not directly comparable with Australia right now, the issue of high-speed rail servicing Australia's east coast has recently surfaced again.
Pounglas also pointed out that Europe has an increasingly competitive airport v airport scene, with several airports in any one region competing for traffic - and the parking revenue that accompanies it.
There is also growing competition from off-airport (but adjacent) parking facilities, with some European airports having up to 40 per cent of their parking capacity off-airport as competition.
"This should be an invitation for us to get out of our comfort zones and do some lateral thinking," he said.
Even when the airport has dominance in the parking sector, any competition has real potential to impact on the airport's revenue, because of pricing differentials.
Other points of interest included:
• Parking constitutes between two and eight per cent of airport revenue in Europe.
• In the UK, BAA's parking revenue amounts to 0.85 euros per pax.
• At the other end of the scale, Schiphol's parking revenue is 1.60 euros per pax.
• Seventy-one per cent of European airports now offer on-line booking for parking
• In 2009, LHR had 20,000 website hits for parking for every million pax; but Luton had 120,000 and Manchester 110,000.
• The average world price for a day's parking is US$21.95; while Europe has the highest at $32.20 per day (LHR is $70).
• Parking should be just one part of sophisticated cross-selling of airport products and packages via the website (as well as fast-track security processing, lounge access, travel insurance, retail offers etc.).
Dr Pounglas concluded by saying that, "The pricing of parking should increasingly have a scientific and professional approach, including yield management".
By Jan. 1, it could get more expensive - and inconvenient - to ignore city parking tickets.
The City Council gave initial approval Thursday to devices that can immobilize cars owned by people with certain ticket violations. A car could get the "boot," as the devices are known, if the owner has three or more unpaid city parking tickets or one unpaid ticket for unlawfully parking in a handicapped space. The board will take a final vote Nov. 4. If approved then, the devices would begin to be used by the new year.
"This is the only way to get some people to pay up," said council member Bill Dudley. "Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil."
The metal boots are typically attached to the front wheel of a car, rendering it useless. The ordinance allows cars in city-owned parking garages and spaces to get booted. A notice would be attached to the windshield of the car or the left front window listing the total amount of fines the registered owner of the car owes.
It would also list a $25 boot removal fee and a warning that the car could be damaged if the motorist tries to operate the vehicle with the device on the tire. The note will have a location where the owner can pay the fines and get the boot removed.
If the fines haven't been paid within 24 hours of the boot, the car can be towed.
When Foster announced the boot program this summer, he said it was intended to target those with 10 or more tickets. The proposed ordinance, however, says those with only three unpaid tickets are subject to having their cars booted.
"Early on, we may be passing on those with three tickets," said Richard Bulger, the city's director of billing and collections. "There's just too many."
Bulger wouldn't say how many tickets one would need to get the boot.
"I just want people to pay their unpaid tickets," he said. "I don't want them to think, 'Well, I have fewer tickets than what they're targeting.' "
The city is owed $2 million in unpaid tickets since 2003, he said.
Figuring out how best to manage future parking needs hinges on something the city has less and less of these days -- money.
That's partly why city officials are crossing their fingers that funding for smart-growth projects will be channeled their way. This week, city officials got the green light to apply for funding from the Bay Area Regional Focus Technical Assistance Program. The City Council OK'd that move Tuesday.
The Bay Area grant program already has dished out about $175,000 for projects in Berkeley, Martinez, San Carlos and along El Camino Real corridor. But Benicia could face stiff competition from other cities also trying to tap the program's remaining $325,000.
"No submissions have been received yet, so it's impossible to assess what Benicia's up against," Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said Thursday.
The program is led by the Bay Area Association of Governments and MTC in coordination with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
The initial round of funding drew 11 applications, but resulted in just four grants, Goodwin said.
The current cycle's deadline is Nov. 1.
If successful, Benicia hopes to use the funds for civic-engagement strategies and parking policy and demand studies, city officials said.
The grant program could provide up to $60,000 for the effort. The program specifically helps cities hire consultants to implement transit-oriented growth plans.
Without the grant, the parking project probably would have to wait, Benicia Economic Development Manager Amalia Lorentz said.
It's already been three years since the council adopted the Downtown Mixed Use Master Plan, which includes recommendations for parking improvements.
Although the plan finds sufficient parking for current demands, it also recommends better management in the future. Proposals include considering parking meters, time limits and addressing spill-over parking. The city is pondering using empty gravel lots on E Street for that purpose.
Others, however, like downtown just the way it is. In recent years, when the city added painted spots along First Street, some people voiced concern about the change.
As for meters, Lorentz said Benicia may lack the volume of parking to make a downtown pay-system pencil out. But the idea hasn't been thoroughly studied.
If funded, city officials say they could complete the parking studies next year.
The goal is to end a parking nightmare brought on by the local rail station, and in doing so improve pedestrian access to the business district around the station.
And the way to do it, borough officials say, is to become Passaic County's first "transit village," benefiting from several state funding programs that have the same goals for communities that are host to railroad commuter stops.
The area of interest is a half-mile radius around the Main Line train station along Washington Avenue. It encompasses the area east of Diamond Bridge Avenue to west of Lafayette Avenue and also Grand Avenue. Right now, it's a battleground for parking spaces, pitting residents against commuters. And it's a business district where sidewalks, lighting and signage are haphazard for both commuters and shoppers.
Local officials are now studying what they have to do under the state Smart Growth program led by the Department of Transportation and NJ Transit.
The DOT touts the transit village concept as offering small communities benefits including priority funding from some state agencies. Given that attraction, borough officials are enthusiastic about exploring the option.
"Our goal is to show Hawthorne in the best light, and by becoming a transit village, it makes us more grant-eligible," Mayor Richard Goldberg said.
Beyond sprucing up the community, the state program would benefit commuters: Plans would lead to more parking spaces. Long-range, the state also sees such localized efforts as part of a regional rail reorganization. It predicts shorter commuting time and more direct travel into midtown Manhattan if the Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project, which proposes to construct two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River from New Jersey to Penn Station, is reinstated.
The potential transit village would spruce up the downtown business district by creating parking lots and improving both roads and pedestrian-friendly pathways so motorists wouldn't feel compelled to park around the rail station.
"It's an old town and the streets are on the narrower side, so parking can be a problem," said Ginger Phiefer, owner of Kirker's Inn on Diamond Bridge Avenue. "I think we could use more parking spaces for restaurants in the area."
Carl Schmidt, chairman of the Borough Council's Economic Committee, said his panel hopes to attract state grants for streetscaping on Grand Avenue. He described the thoroughfare as having incomplete sidewalks - some pedestrian paths even lacking sidewalks and proper lighting.
"The objective is to create a space where pedestrians could walk freely and get to the train station without relying on cars, which would reduce the flow of traffic into the downtown area," he said.
The committee also wants restrooms installed in the train station. It currently has none.
Currently, the Main Line train station, adjacent to the Pan Chemical site at 1 Washington Ave., has 24 available NJ Transit parking spaces. Most commuters have to park on the streets in spots not specifically designated for residents through a local sticker program.
Trying to solve the parking problem on its own, the borough has entered talks with the Pan Chemical property owner, One Washington Holdings LLC. It proposes to lease part of the idled 104-acre property for a parking lot to serve both the existing train station and a potentially new one for NJ Transit's proposed Passaic-Bergen rail line. But because of additional ongoing talks about an estimated $350,000 pollution cleanup there, there's been no progress on the lease discussion, local officials say.
The Passaic-Bergen passenger rail project, when completed, would reintroduce passenger service on the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway. The line would have a station in Hawthorne where commuters could transfer to the Main Line. It also would also make it more convenient for commuters seeking a faster route within the two counties, with proposed station stops in Paterson, Elmwood Park and Hackensack.
The Hawthorne Economic Committee has begun researching information to submit with an application to the DOT for transit village eligibility. Prerequisites include attending a meeting with the state's transit village coordinator, describing the existing rail facilities, and adopting a transit-oriented development (TOD) redevelopment plan or TOD zoning.
Schmidt said the borough has met most of the criteria for a transit village designation and now faces a round of talks with state planning officials leading to zoning modifications.
State officials involved in the effort did not return calls for comment.
"They are looking for mixed-use zoning, and we have a lot of that in the borough, but they need to be sufficiently defined as outlined by the transit village program," Schmidt said.
A mixed-use development would be, for example, a single building with a store on the first floor, a professional office above and an apartment above that.
Since July, the committee has met with three involved agencies: the transit village task force, NJ Transit and the Passaic County Planning Board. It will present the transit project details at the borough's next Planning Board meeting, in early November.
"In today's economy, where people are looking for money to do things," Goldberg added, "we want to make Hawthorne an attractive partner for the state and federal government."
Pittsburgh City Council gave initial approval to its alternative pension bailout plan Wednesday, setting up a final vote Tuesday but drawing criticism along the way from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
The plan calls for the city to sell its parking assets -- the Mellon Square garage, five lots and about 7,000 on-street meters -- to the city parking authority for $220 million. It also calls for the parking authority to float a 30-year bond to buy the city parking assets and repay the debt with parking rate increases.
The parking authority would have to approve the deal, and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, an authority board member, plans to introduce legislation there at a meeting Monday. Officials said they'd like to garner the support of Mr. Ravenstahl, but he opposes new debt.
Council would use the $220 million to boost the pension plan's funding level, now 27.5 percent, to 50 percent by year's end. That bump would be enough to avert a state takeover of the fund.
Voting for the plan were council President Darlene Harris, Ms. Rudiak, Patrick Dowd, Bruce Kraus, R. Daniel Lavelle, Bill Peduto, and Doug Shields. Ricky Burgess voted no, and Theresa Kail-Smith abstained.
The preliminary nod came 24 hours after the same seven-member majority voted down Mr. Ravenstahl's proposal to lease city and parking authority assets to private investors for 50 years. He wanted to use proceeds to boost the pension fund and avert a fund takeover, which he said would dramatically increase the city's annual pension obligations and force the city to make tough choices about tax hikes and service cuts.
Preliminary approval of the alternative -- developed by council and city Controller Michael Lamb -- also came just a day after the authors held the first comprehensive public discussion about it. Mr. Ravenstahl called the preliminary vote the "height of hypocrisy" because council clamored for transparency during the nearly two years he developed his plan but is pushing its own forward at top speed without public input.
Council said the alternative grew out of Mrs. Harris' months-old proposal for a bond issue instead of a parking lease. Officials also said the alternative was based largely on public comments at hearings that were held to debate the mayor's plan, discuss the pension crisis and consider alternative pension bailouts.
Council rejected the mayor's parking lease because of the length of the agreement, concern about private management of parking assets and the parking rate increases that the mayor included as part of the $452 million deal. The alternative calls for lower parking rate increases than the mayor proposed.
If the city's parking assets are added to its own, the authority would operate about 12 garages, 30 lots and the 7,000 on-street meters. On Wednesday, council members made clear that they envision a better-operated, friendlier, more innovative parking authority.
"We have to start running it like a business," said Mrs. Harris, who inserted amendments that would require the authority to make technology and customer-service upgrades, seek city approval of any move to generate revenue through advertising and undergo an efficiency study next year.
Other council members also cited room for improvement.
"We're the Flintstones living in the age of the Jetsons," Mr. Peduto said, noting that some cities allow drivers to purchase parking time by cell phone and change meter rates remotely as demand rises and falls.
Mr. Peduto, who doesn't believe a state takeover would be as dire as the mayor indicated and might be a good thing for the city, suggested bringing in a company like LAZ Parking Ltd. to operate the authority. LAZ was part of the team that offered $452 million for the parking lease that council rejected.
Mr. Peduto also suggested the possibility of voluntarily turning over the pension fund to the state, after stabilizing it with the $220 million cash infusion.
Off-site parking for the San Francisco 49ers' planned stadium next to California's Great America could provide an unusual income-generating opportunity for nearby businesses and schools.
The National Football League team is busy signing up its North Bayshore district neighbors as an outlet for the overflow parking, when the six-level, 1,800-space parking garage built across the street from the stadium fills up.
The local partnering could be a boon for neighbors like Mission College and others with parking lots to spare on game day.
Exactly how much businesses and the college garner from the parking remains to be seen, since parking rates haven't been established as yet, according to Ron Garratt, Santa Clara assistant city manager. But the Santa Clara City Council voted to assess a fee of $4.54 per parking stall in the outlying lots to help cover public safety, traffic control and other costs associated with events at the stadium. He said the 49ers have agreed to provide parking lot attendants, security personnel and clean-up workers for the off-site lots.
But the bump in revenue is enticing. There are 2,200 available parking spaces at Mission College on game day. If the school charges up to $20 per vehicle that would be $44,000 per event. With 10 to 12 games per season, including pre-season, that would bring in between $440,000 to $528,000, minus the city's fee, which would net between $420,014 to $408,144 annually.
Lisa Lang, vice president of communications for the 49ers, said the team plans to secure parking spaces far above the 10,500 stalls it will need to accommodate fans driving to games. And it's well along in that endeavor - a total of 20,138 spaces are already committed, including 10,557 controlled by the city and 9,581 on the properties of local companies, as well as Mission College.
"We're really pleased with the response we've gotten from businesses in the area,"Lang said.
Ten of those neighbors - including Mission College and the Avatar Hotel, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara Marriott and Hyatt Regency Santa Clara - have agreed to provide parking for games. All are located within about a half-mile of the future $937 million, 68,500-seat stadium.
Extra parking planned
Garratt said some of the off-site lots will be controlled by the stadium authority - comprised of Santa Clara City Council members. The group will likely set parking rates depending on their distance from the stadium. Lots located outside the authority's jurisdiction will likely be able to determine their own rates, he said.
Laurel Jones, Mission College president, said her campus is happy to participate in the program.
"This allows us to connect with the city in ways we haven't before," she said.
Jones said campus and 49er officials are also considering providing food for tailgaters through her college's hospitality management program.
Steve Van Dorn, president of the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce and Convention-Visitors Bureau, said businesses in the area are excited at the revenue-generating prospects of the parking program. He said restaurants in the area hope to benefit from stadium traffic, too.
Downtown San Jose's HP Pavilion has a similar situation to Santa Clara, with a busy schedule of San Jose Sharks games, concerts, ice shows and other entertainment events. The facility has 1,600 on-site parking spaces, for which it charges between $10 to $20 per car, depending on the event. The arena holds about 17,500 for hockey games and more than 19,000 for concerts.
Jim Goddard, the Pavilion's executive vice president and general manager, said there are more than 6,300 other spaces, whether in downtown parking garages or surface lots within about a half-mile of the arena. Those lots are priced according to market forces. At the Market and San Pedro Square Garage located a few blocks east of HP Pavilion, Goddard said hockey fans and concertgoers can park for only $3 for an entire evening.
"The beauty of the situation is there's a broad range of parking choices downtown," he said. "What you pay is dependent on how far you're willing to walk and what your plans are for the evening."
Season ticketholders driving to 49ers games will be directed to park in certain areas through the team's traffic control plans. Lang said up to 18,000 fans, or 26 percent of those attending football games, will arrive via bus and train, including Caltrain and light rail provided by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
Mayor Greg Ballard's latest parking meter lease proposal calls for $15 million less on the front end and more than $200 million in additional revenue over the long haul. But whether that's a good deal -- or one that can win over the City-County Council -- remains a matter for debate.
"Whether it would pass as it is now, I would have my doubts,"
said Barbara Malone, the proposal's council sponsor and Ballard's
fellow Republican. Ballard's aides and the council president
expressed more optimism.
But if the new deal doesn't garner support, Malone said, more changes are possible: "Nobody's going to say we're going to cut off negotiations. People are still going to stay at the table talking about it."
The biggest hurdle for many critics -- the 50-year term of the proposed deal with a team led by Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services, a Xerox company -- remains, but now the city could opt out every 10 years, for a fee. Ballard touted that change Wednesday in announcing key revisions.
Here's a look at those revisions:
» Old proposal: $35 million.
» New proposal: $20 million.
» What they're saying: Ballard says the city gave up some upfront cash to improve other provisions, but it's still enough to provide cash for initial infrastructure projects while pushing the cost to modernize meters onto ACS. Critics, including council Democratic Minority Leader Joanne Sanders, say the upfront cash does little to sweeten what they see as a risky long-term deal.
Annual revenue split
» Old proposal: City gets 20 percent of first $8.4 million in meter and parking violations revenue, and 55 percent beyond that.
» New proposal: City gets 30 percent of first $7 million, and 60 percent beyond that.
» What they're saying: "We believe we've taken a good opportunity and turned it into a great opportunity for the city," Deputy Mayor Michael Huber said, by giving up upfront cash in exchange for a higher ongoing revenue share. Democrats and other critics still point out that lead vendor ACS would reap a larger share than the city -- and wouldn't have to disclose its profits. Huber estimates ACS' annual profits would be $700,000 to $1 million in the first few years.
City's overall revenue share
» Old proposal: $400 million, according to ACS' revenue projections for the city.
» New proposal: $620 million.
» What they're saying: Ballard says the money, which must be spent on infrastructure projects in Downtown and Broad Ripple, would enable the city to stretch his separate $500 million RebuildIndy program even further in other parts of the city. But the city would give up a government function unnecessarily, Democratic Councilwoman Jackie Nytes said, and Sanders argues that the city could reap even more revenue by borrowing to purchase new meters itself and retaining control, a suggestion Ballard has rejected.
Length of ACS lease
» Old proposal: 50 years, with termination only for violations by vendor.
» New proposal: 50 years, with termination possible for any reason every 10 years. The city's breakup fee would start at $19.8 million after 10 years and decrease every decade, falling to $8 million after 40 years. Those penalties are in future dollars.
» What they're saying: "The buyout provisions are reasonable," said Council President Ryan Vaughn, a Republican. Malone, the proposal sponsor in the council, supports the proposal but said: "I expected it to be more like 30 or 35 years, still with termination clauses at different intervals." Nytes said the long term would tie the city's hands in too many ways. "The program needs to be evaluated more quickly than in 10 years," said Cathy Burton, president of the Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations.
» Old proposal: ACS is compensated for removed meters and for temporary closures beyond an annual allowance.
» New proposal: Similar, except the city can remove up to 200 meters without compensating ACS. The city also can avoid paying ACS if it adds a new meter nearby to replace one that is removed.
» What they're saying: Elizabeth Marshall, president of the Broad Ripple Village Association, says the "swap-out" provision is important, giving the city more flexibility in future urban planning. Sanders and Nytes say the city would still lack enough control over its own streets, and other critics argue it's impossible to foresee how the city's landscape -- and uses for curbside lanes -- will change so far in the future.
A three-story parking deck that the new owners of The Courtyard say is needed to make the center viable won high marks from the Chapel Hill Town Council at a public hearing Monday night.
In a discussion at Town Hall, the council reviewed plans to redevelop part of The Courtyard and add a deck with at least 80 parking spaces on a surface lot on the south side of the retail and office center.
The new plans also call for converting most of the second- and third-floor office space at The Courtyard into 13 dwelling units. In addition, much of the hard surface added to the actual courtyard at the development would be returned to landscaping.
A dispute over parking between former owner Spencer Young and P.H. Craig, who owns three adjacent parking lots, led to the unraveling of the finances of the center. Craig blocked access to the lots after Young refused to pay rent on them, cutting the available parking down to only 28 spaces. That triggered an exodus of businesses, including 3 Cups, Baba Ghannouj and Sandwhich. At one point, the center had a vacancy rate of 90 percent. In 2008, Wachovia Bank foreclosed on the property and eventually sold it to Franklin West LLC, which was set up by The Dilweg Companies, a Durham-based commercial real estate firm.
John Weigle, who represented Dilweg at the council hearing, said solving the parking issue is a bedrock requirement of a financing arrangement for the center, which has seen an upfit and a slew of new tenants.
At the hearing, Craig told the council he is pleased with the plan and hopes to work with the new owners to hammer out additional access to the deck and to resolve long-running storm-water problems at the site.
Craig is also pursuing a zoning change for his properties, which are leased by the town for downtown parking.
Council members said they were anxious to see the project move forward. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he hopes the council can meet the developer's request to have a parking fix in hand by the end of the year. The council will take up the proposal again on Nov. 22.
In other action, the council heard a proposal to modify the way the town calculates recreational space requirements. The proposal uses actual floor area to determine the amount of recreational space required rather than the overall size of the development.
Parks and Recreation director Butch Kisiah said the new system more accurately reflects the number of people in a new development. The system also would allow for greater flexibility in calculating payments-in-lieu.
At the hearing, council members questioned a delay in the changes for most downtown zoning districts. Kisiah said implementing the new formula would have a major impact on several downtown projects already in the pipeline, multiplying the amount of recreational space required in some cases.
Council member Jim Ward said that should give planners some pause about the new rules. The council continued the hearing until Nov. 22 and asked for a report on the potential impact to downtown projects.
Also on Monday night, the council saw the initial presentation of a concept plan for a major expansion of the Ronald McDonald House on Old Mason Farm Road. The plan calls for the construction of an additional seven buildings adjacent to the existing building to house new guest rooms, a dining hall, meeting space and offices.
Two additional access points would be added along Old Mason Farm Road along with a drop-off drive and 16 new parking spaces.
More than 40 parking permits, belonging to both faculty and students, have been reported lost or stolen this semester, and SHSU officials believe that students may be purchasing them illegally through private individuals.
David Kapalko, the Director of the Parking and Transportation Department at SHSU, said new policies, in addition to the permits' portable nature, may be to blame.
"It's an unusual situation…There is a possibility that a person, who realizes they can now get a replacement [permit, if they report it lost or stolen,] for only $10, may do that and then sell their original permit for $20 dollars or more," Kapalko said. "In other words, they are making money off of it."
Last year, with the sticker format, students had to pay full price for a replacement unless they brought the remnants of their old sticker to the Parking and Transportation office. Under the new policies, Kapalko hopes to create more convenience.
"We thought it was unfair to those who legitimately lost or had their permit stolen to pay full price," Kapalko said. "We would have cars that were in accidents that were totaled, and the person couldn't get the remnants to us."
Despite the theft problems the department been experiencing, Kapalko said there are no plans to alter the hanging permit format.
"We are trying to make [the permits] as convenient as possible," Kapalko said. "Most families today have multiple cars, so it's very common for them to have to switch cars. We don't want to have to take away that convenience, but we also want to make students responsible. They need to maintain the possession of their permit."
"If the problem gets worse, then we may have to go back to having just parking stickers for students, but I would hate to do that," he said.
Students found guilty of using a lost or stolen parking permit will receive a $100 citation, and their car will be immediately towed for its space. The price of the tow will vary on which company is called out, Kapalko said. Over all, he strongly discourages this practice.
"Permits are only valid if they are purchased from parking and transportation, [and] our [parking] policy is that you cannot resell a permit. Once you've bought it, you've got it. It's yours," he said. "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is."
Ferndale City officials are exploring a proposal for the construction of a new six-story building in the heart of downtown Ferndale that would include a parking structure and apartments.
On Oct. 11, the City Council heard a presentation from developer Bob Wolfson - who, last year, built the Lofts on 9 building on East Nine Mile Road - and the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority about the proposed public-private partnership. After an hour of debate, the council voted unanimously for the city manager, the city attorney and the DDA to continue their negotiations with Wolfson on the project.
The proposed building would include 455 parking spaces and 80 apartments. It would be constructed in the eastern half of the Withington parking lot, located near the northwest corner of Nine Mile Road and Woodward Avenue. The structure would cost the city about $7.77 million over 30 years, but as Wolfson explained, officials would not have to spend any of the city's general fund budget in order to pay for it.
"The need (for more parking) is still there, but the money is not," Wolfson told the council. "I think we've figured out how to make this a reality. This really has the potential to be a free lunch - there is no hidden agenda here."
According to Wolfson, about $300,000 of the city's estimated $500,000 in annual payments could be covered by money from the auto parking fund and from parking ticket revenue. The city may also be able to capture approximately $173,000 in annual property taxes on the proposed building via either DDA or the Ferndale Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. The remaining funds, he said, could be covered by making changes to the downtown parking hours and rates.
However, some council members were skeptical of the project. Councilman Scott Galloway was worried that the proposal was being rushed to the council for a decision before they had been given sufficient information.
"This is one of the most poorly sourced agenda items I've seen in nine years up here," he said. "There's just no information here. … This is an unrealistic time frame in every imaginable way. One of the things council despises is being told we're up against a wall where we have to make a decision."
Councilwoman Melanie Piana expressed support for the overall intent of the project, but also shared some of the same concerns as Galloway.
"I feel like this whole presentation has done you a disservice tonight," she told Wolfson. "I'm disappointed and frustrated because I feel like the council was just an afterthought. There are so many unknowns here, and I still have a lot of questions. … Now I feel immense pressure to do something that makes me uncomfortable."
But Wolfson and City Manager Bob Bruner insisted that they were not asking the council to make any final decisions or to commit any funds to the project yet.
"Tonight, the city attorney and I are just looking for some direction from council," Bruner said. "If this is not something council wants to pursue right now, then I don't want to spend a lot of my time and energy on it."
Added Wolfson, "I can't put the cart before the horse. Why would I spend any more money unless I have some ability to work with you guys? … I need to know what the plan is going to be. We just don't want to be spinning our wheels here."
Wolfson and DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius pushed the council to act quickly on the project, noting that the current Michigan Business Tax credit - which expires at the end of the year - would allow the city to receive a 20 percent tax rebate from the state. If city officials wait until 2011 to organize the project, they said, the rebate would be reduced to 15 percent, resulting in a loss of nearly $400,000 in potential savings for the city.
The City Council was in no hurry to take action, however. After requesting that no specific timeline be included, the council reluctantly agreeing to move forward with the project.
"There are a lot of ifs here," said Councilwoman Kate Baker, "but overall, this is the type of thing that cities are trying to plan in a down economy."
Piana agreed. "I feel like public-private partnerships are going to be the new direction for redevelopment of cities," she said.
A recent DDA parking study indicated that there is a downtown parking deficit of 115 spaces in the daytime and 483 spaces during the evening. In addition, the downtown has seen a 56 percent increase in its evening parking deficit since 2006, while the parking supply has only increased by 2 percent during that period.
Over the past year, Ferndale's parking problem has been exacerbated by the success of the expanded Rosie O'Grady's sports bar and restaurant, as well the new Cantina Diablo's Mexican restaurant, which have created a great deal of additional traffic downtown.
In a subsequent interview, Sheppard-Decius said that while the proposed parking deck would not completely eliminate the city's parking deficit, it would "take a huge chunk out of it." Downtown Ferndale, she added, will eventually need two parking structures to meet its parking demands.
"I think this project is critical to the growth of our downtown," she said. "To be able to fill some of our larger (business) vacancies, we will need to show that we have more parking available. A public-private partnership will allow us to do this now, as opposed to five years from now."
Bruner said that he expects to present a status report on the project at the City Council's Nov. 8 meeting. Like Sheppard-Decius, he believes that Wolfson's proposal may be the best possible way for Ferndale to address its parking needs at a time of major budget deficits and employee layoffs.
"At this point, we're not far away from being able to build a parking deck downtown," he said. "I don't think there's any disagreement about the need for this - it's now just a matter of figuring out the how and the when."
Some old parking meters in Ottawa are being converted into bike racks as the city looks for new ways of using the old, decommissioned stands.
The city is replacing its 4,000 coin-operated meters with 600 solar-powered machines, where drivers pay and are issued a ticket to display on their windshields.
More than 500 of the old meters will be retrofitted with bars and turned into bicycle parking.
Ottawa parking operations manager Doug Robertson said the idea will help the city deal with two problems: a surplus of old meters and a growing demand for bike parking by commuters.
The city is still trying to figure out what to do with the remaining 3,500 meters. Some will be sold and others recycled, but none will end up in the landfill, said Robertson.
"We can sell them to suppliers who want to refurbish them and resell them to other municipalities," he said. "If necessary, we will talk about recycling the metal from the post. Selling them to a scrap dealer would be absolutely the last possible use for them."
General public can't buy meters
Robertson said the city is reluctant to sell the meters to the general public as souvenirs.
"We need to be very cautious about it. Other municipalities still use single use parking meters and there's a security issue with that.
"We don't want people out there to have the opportunity to look at them and the inner workings of them to try and come up with ways of impacting other municipalities' parking programs."
On the street, some Ottawa residents laughed when asked if they'd ever consider buying a parking meter as a memento.
Resident Patrick Dennis thought he might like one in his basement.
"Maybe for the mancave. [I could] put it in there and remind me of all the parking tickets I've got over the years."
The installation of the new, pay and display meters is expected to be finished soon.
The city of Norcross is planning to make its newest parking lot less of an eyesore and more green than gray.
The city has received a $6,000 grant from the Chestatee-Chattahoochee Resources Conservation and Development Council to create a canopy of foliage for the utilitarian space that will be adjacent to city hall using native trees such as nuttal oaks and willow oaks. Several islands with plantings will be interspersed to soften and enhance the space.
"Creating a parking lot that has a park-like setting ties this new area in with the surrounding green spaces," said Norcross' mayor, Bucky Johnson. "The nearby downtown area got a facelift with new healthy trees incorporated. "Wherever you go in our city, there is a generous canvas of green trees and beautiful landscaping. And most of it has a practical use, too, whether it's a place to play with your kids, or offer more parking for events and shopping."
Funding for the tree-planting project was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and disbursed as part of Georgia's Growing Green Grant from the Georgia Forestry Commission. The CCRCD was in turn tasked with sub-granting funds to communities within its district.
According to the grant requirements, Norcross must plant the trees selected from a list of indigenous species, purchased locally if possible, on public property.
City of Derby Mayor Anthony Staffieri said last week that a major overhaul of the 35-year-old municipal parking garage downtown will have to wait - at least until federal and state grants loosen up.
The poor, deteriorating condition of the garage has been a subject of several news articles for a couple of years. At the last two meetings of the Derby Parking Authority, members have pointed out the need for improvement - they've even brought chunks of the broken concrete to meetings.
However, Staffieri said there's simply no money at the moment to solve the problem.
"The state and federal governments and not giving grants right now. It's a tough time, and we have to wait it out," Staffieri said. "When the time comes, we're hoping to get a grant or maybe even go to referendum someday. As it is, it is okay to keep plugging along until the time comes."
There is no way Derby could do without it, Staffieri said, so repairs will be made until one day the overhaul is feasible.
One member of the Derby Municipal Parking Authority is wondering how long it can last.
"I think three years from now if this garage isn't condemned it will be a miracle," said Anthony Szewczyk, the parking authority member, at a meeting of the panel last Wednesday night that included a visit from a structural engineer who has examined the garage.
Staffieri was invited to attend the 6:30 p.m. meeting so he could speak with the engineer, but he was busy with other engagements. He said he wants to attend the next meeting if he is given more advance notice.
At last week's meeting, Herman Szeker, an engineer with Fletcher Thomspon in Shelton, reported that the garage needed major structural repairs and was nearing the end of its functional life.
"We have some serious decay. It is quite a concern," Leo P. Moscato Jr., director of the authority, said.
The 310-space garage at 2 Thompson Place is a significant element of the downtown area.
Potholes are common. So are pieces of concrete that fall from the ceiling.
Some improvements have been performed, including shoring up some areas and repairing potholes, but the larger repair work would include concrete slab removal and replacement. There are four decks of concrete.
"The concrete deterioration will continue. You can keep putting Band-Aids on it, but eventually it will get to a point where replacement will be necessary," Szeker told the panel. "The steel is in fine condition. It is the concrete slabs, top and bottom floor mostly, that need to be replaced. In the entry way, people bring in salt and water constantly."
The Municipal Parking Garage is open Monday through Saturday at 7:00 a.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays it closes to new entries at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday vehicles may enter until 10:00 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, the garage is only open to monthly pass holders only. Monthly card holders can access the garage at any time.
Central Baptist Hospital is scheduled to formally break ground Wednesday on a $200 million expansion of its Nicholasville Road complex.
But already, the new building has cost the hospital's employees their on-site parking spaces until a new garage can be constructed.
The project will include a new cancer center with facilities for radiation therapy, chemotherapy and a CyberKnife radiation surgery tool; and a women's center with labor and delivery, surgical and neonatal intensive care facilities. The expansion will also include 40 intensive care beds and 44 private medical surgical beds. While the expansion will not add to the hospital's 383-bed total, it will allow all of the hospital's rooms to be private.
Employees are being shuttled to and from a lot on Lowry Lane near the Walgreens and O'Charleys. Patients and other visitors to the hospital will be offered free valet parking for 150 surface parking spots, even as visitors to the adjoining medical office buildings are now offered valet garage parking.
For parking lots that have limited space but high demand, valet parking is considered more efficient, as valets have a better idea of where to park cars and how to retrieve them quickly.
"That lot in front frees up space for people who will not park in a garage but will valet park," said hospital spokesman Ruth Ann Childers.
That leaves 40 spaces for self-parking for those who decline valet parking; they are in front of Building E. The hospital is also preparing an additional lot that will be available within a few weeks that will have parking for 80 to 100 cars north of Building E.
In addition, Childers said, the old Central Baptist Church entrance that some had used for hospital access will be blocked off. The entrance did not have a traffic light and was not intended as an entrance to the hospital, she said.
The first part of the expansion being built is the five-floor parking garage, which will be topped by two floors of medical office space. The addition will be linked to the hospital via a ground-level walkway.
Central Baptist had considered a new complex in the booming Hamburg corridor, but ultimately decided to make expansion on Nicholasville Road its first priority. The Central Baptist expansion is close to the $762 million UK Hospital now being built; the emergency room of UK's new hospital opened in July.
Central Baptist announced the Nicholasville Road expansion in April. Construction is expected to take two to two-and-a-half years.
The Park Ridge City Council voted down a motion Oct. 11 that would have directed the city manager to begin negotiating the purchase of Uptown property.
Fifth Ward Alderman Robert Ryan made a motion for City Manager Jim Hock to investigate the purchase of a parking lot at 20 S. Fairview Ave. and determine if a parking structure could be built on the site. Ryan stated that the city's Uptown plan identifies the area as a recommended location for a public parking garage.
Aldermen Joe Sweeney, Rich DiPietro, Don Bach and Frank Wsol voted down the motion at the Committee of the Whole meeting.
"I think we have a building next door that's been land-banked for several years," Sweeney said, suggesting the city use that property, at 226 S. Courtland Ave., for parking instead.
The 20 S. Fairview site is listed for $724,000. The city now leases the lot for $20,520 annually and sells permits to commuters. This year the city made a profit of $2,280. The city's lease expires Nov. 30 with an automatic renewal until May 31.
The city reportedly has more than $1.2 million in its parking fund, money that can only be used for parking-related expenses. But city officials have stated that the money is often "borrowed" to pay city expenses when other funds are low because of cash-flow issues.
Thieves in downtown Madison apparently have decided parking meters are an easy source of cash.
More than 20 parking meters in the downtown area have been broken into during the past week, with thieves damaging the lock boxes to gain access to the money inside.
Streets with damaged meters include Henry, West Johnson, Langdon, Winnebago, Russell, and East Main.
"Breaking into the meters likely creates a good amount of noise," said Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain. "Anyone who hears or sees suspicious activity around parking meters should call 911."
Police have no suspects in the meter thefts.
On the eve of a hearing about whether Harrisburg should be granted distressed city status by the state, a game-changing plan has been approved by the Harrisburg Parking Authority that will allow millions of dollars to flow to the city.
While the money wouldn't be enough to retire the city's $288 million debt, which has effectively bankrupted Harrisburg, it's a surprising start for a city in desperate need of solutions.
Board members of the Parking Authority, which is separate from the City Council, on Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution for a finance plan to restructure the surplus revenues of the Harrisburg Parking Authority. The plan, which will aim to close by the end of the December, calls for $30 million to $75 million to be placed in trust for the city's use.
"I think this is a very positive thing for the city of Harrisburg," said new board member Corky Goldstein, adding: "This will be of tremendous assistance to the city and the taxpayers, but a lot will depend on how this all falls."
Authority solicitor Tim Anderson said the amount of money that could be realized for the city through the refinancing will depend on several factors, including whether the financing is done over 27 years or longer. If the deal extended through 2045, the city could realize as much as $75 million by the end of the year.
"This deal could be done right now," Anderson said before the vote that set in motion a refinancing deal that could alter the steps the city now takes to pull itself out of fiscal peril.
It was unclear what impact news of this deal will have on a hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. today. Harrisburg has been told by state officials, including Gov. Ed Rendell, to apply for Act 47 status. The Department of Community and Economic Development will hear testimony from stakeholders in the city's fiscal situation.
Council members issued a letter to DCED officials Tuesday asking for a stay of tonight's hearing. The City Council said it was not prepared to adequately represent its position in the application process without retaining expert counsel. Council members Brad Koplinski and Susan Brown Wilson said they expect the hearing will go on regardless of their request.
However, after waiting 10 months for a plan to emerge from Mayor Linda Thompson, council members said they were heartened to hear of developments out of the parking authority.
One of the most frequent complaints you'll hear from etsu students is about parking: not enough space, and too far away.
Freshman Ryan Woumn says, "there is none, plenty of cars and it's hard to park." Senior Micah McFaddin adds, "everyone gripes, I gripe about it at least 3-4 times a week."
The official answer from the university is there are enough spaces, even above the national average. They added more than 100 spaces over the summer. Students just don't like the walk.
Administrators say with growing enrollment numbers, the lots won't be able to keep up for much longer. With no more space for additional parking lots, the only option is a garage.
According to ETSU Vice President David Collins, "if you continue to look at the growth of 3-4-500 a year, it will be needed in 2-3 years."
The university has been saving money for the construction for several years, but they don't have enough to cover the entire project.
David Collins says, "a parking garage is the way we have to go in the future, not a matter of if but when."
They're looking at replacing the existing lot next to the mini-dome.
One way they are hoping to help pay for it is to duplicate some services currently in the student center, like another book store that would be easier for students to get to. Also adding food services, and another public safety office. All options that could bring grant money.
But student fees parking would still go up. Ryan Woumn say, "we have to park, we have to pay." ETSU hopes to have the project complete by 20-13. The university tells us that construction costs are cheaper now than previous estimates.
They hope to build the garage for about $13,000 dollars per space. Plans call for the garage to hold roughly 1,200 cars.
Racking up unpaid parking fines?
Seattle wants to give you the boot.
The city plans to order license-plate-recognition devices and high-tech tire immobilizers next year to fuel a crackdown on so-called "scofflaws" who have at least four unpaid tickets.
Cars may be booted not only in busy commercial districts but on the back street next to your house.
The roundup is expected to collect $1.1 million in 2011 and $1.8 million in 2012 after expenses. The city expects some spooked drivers to send money right before the crackdown.
The new enforcement requires City Council approval of Mayor Mike McGinn's budget and of a change in municipal codes this fall.
Here's how it would work, according to Tim Killian, McGinn's senior adviser:
Seattle Municipal Court would maintain a scofflaw database, expected to number 27,000 vehicles.
Two parking-enforcement vehicles would be equipped with plate-recognition cameras linked to a court database, so an alarm would be triggered when a scofflaw vehicle is passed.
The officer would stop, fasten a boot to one tire and place a notice on the windshield.
When the motorist returns, he or she would call a toll-free number and supply a credit-card number to pay the fines.
After paying up, the driver would be given a code to punch into a keypad on the boot, releasing it. If that doesn't happen within 48 hours of booting, the car could be towed. The boot, weighing 16 pounds and worth about $500, would have to be returned to one of multiple drop-off locations, or further penalties or a theft charge would occur.
Mayor defends stance
McGinn has insisted at recent news conferences that his new parking plans, including an increase in the top meter fee to $4 an hour, is not a green conspiracy against car users. Instead, he says, the goal is a more brisk turnover of on-street parking spaces, so that one-eighth are unoccupied - thus encouraging short stops at retail stores.
And, of course, to raise money.
The city already tows some vehicles with overdue fines, but they have to be parked illegally, and may be recovered if the drivers pay the impound costs, not the parking fines.
Like other cities, Seattle is acknowledging that the traditional paper chase of citations, bills and Municipal Court filings isn't all that efficient.
"Our experience with many of the people on the scofflaw list is they ... simply ignore the collection letter, continue to park illegally and rack up parking tickets," Killian said.
Parking fines are expected to bring in $21 million this year, based on about 500,000 tickets, and $25 million next year, budgets say.
Even before penalties, the parking meters and pay stations are lucrative - a projected $27 million for 2010. An additional $22 million comes from commercial parking taxes on off-street lots. Those taxes likely will increase next year.
On the streets of the University District last week, salesman Tristan Lawrence, a cigar-company rep new to Seattle, wondered if he'll get a boot someday.
"I've been pretty good about it," he said, "but that seems pretty intense."
He said it's easy for someone like him to run up tickets, since he expects to park in pay spaces three or four times a day.
Peter Davis, a self-employed builder, said it's fine for the city to pursue people who avoid tickets - "if it helps reduce the cost for us people who pay on time."
The income goes into the city general fund, as opposed to directly reducing transportation taxes and fees.
Used in 14 cities
A contract hasn't been awarded, but a New Jersey company has a patent for its boot and call-center technology.
A total of 14 cities, including Denver, New Orleans, Baltimore and Syracuse, N.Y., operate systems by PayLock. The company runs a 24-hour call center and says drivers can be mobile again in five minutes. President Cory Marchasin says operators have patched in conference calls nationwide, and even to Russia, so drivers could cobble together payment sources from multiple cards and friends. "The record is 27," he said.
During talks in Seattle, Marchasin said, he was struck that city staffers were open to allowing payment plans - quite different from what he called the predator-prey model in some cities' parking divisions.
Oakland, Calif., launched its "Smart Boot" initiative last November, expecting to collect $800,000 a year - but the city found that many of the 68,000 vehicles in arrears are no longer on the road.
Plate-reader technologies already have made inroads for other uses in Seattle and the suburbs.
Red-light cameras are proliferating
In addition, one police cruiser in each Seattle precinct already can scan a roadside or parking lot for stolen cars, either for a car-theft investigation or as surveillance during routine patrols.
There are five license-plate cameras on patrol cars and one in parking enforcement, Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said. The parking-enforcement vehicle already has been linked to the scofflaw database and also will be used for enforcement once the boots arrive, said Aaron Pickus, McGinn's spokesman.
The state Department of Transportation has installed license-plate-recognition cameras on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and will do so on the Highway 520 floating bridge next year, to bill drivers who lack a "Good to Go" debit transponder in the windshield.
And just Monday, Seattle turned on five traffic-information signs that rely on license-plate photos. Pictures are taken, for instance, as cars pass 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Avalon Way, clicked again as cars approach Interstate 5 at Tully's, and then the average elapsed times are displayed back on the sign at 35th.
No, traffic engineers will not be linking those cameras to the parking-scofflaw database.
It could have seven years left. Or it could have as many as 12.
Either way, the 39-year-old Pugh Street parking garage is approaching the end of its useful life, State College public-works director Mark Whitfield said last week.
Opened in 1971, the 491-spot garage was the first of its kind in the region. It remains the second-largest public parking facility in downtown State College -- second only to the $12 million Beaver Avenue garage, opened in late 2005.
But the Pugh garage was built before engineers included "mild steel," an embedded structural-reinforcement element, in parking-garage designs.
That means the weight of the upper Pugh garage floors is supported entirely by the metal cables buried inside the concrete floors themselves.
It's not an unsafe design, Whitfield emphasized; it just isn't likely to last as long as the 525-spot Beaver Avenue garage or the 335-spot Fraser Street garage, opened in 1985, he said. Both of those newer State College garages were built with the mild-steel reinforcement.
Just one other known Pennsylvania facility of the Pugh Street garage's vintage lasted as long, Whitfield said. And that structure, in West Chester, Chester County, was dismantled within the past couple years.
Whitfield said State College has managed to prolong the Pugh garage's life in part by not spreading salt there in the cold weather. "I believe that goes a long way in why the garage is in the shape it is now," he said.
The borough will get a more thorough sense of the facility's condition in 2011, when a contractor is scheduled to conduct a complete appraisal of the garage, including its buried support cables. The last such appraisal was conducted in 2005, when a few cables were replaced. Next year's assessment should give the borough a better sense of exactly how many years the Pugh garage has left, Whitfield said.
"We know rusting is going on inside the concrete," he said. "The question is, how far into the cables" has it reached?
Already, Whitfield said, borough staff members are looking preliminarily at how to recalibrate downtown parking once the Pugh garage comes down. It's possible that a new parking garage will be built not at the Pugh Street site, but somewhere else between Pugh and Garner streets, Whitfield said.
In order to accommodate a garage the size of the current facility, a site would need to be roughly 200 feet long and 260 feet wide, he said.
"There aren't a lot of pieces of property available in the downtown area" that could accommodate those dimensions, Whitfield added. He said the borough has "begun to look" at opportunities, but he declined to identify specific locations this early in the process.
"Ideally, we would want to overbuild it somewhat" in anticipation of further growth and demand, Whitfield said.
The thorough assessment of the Pugh Street garage is expected to be complete by the end of next summer.
When the now-abandoned and infested behemoth across from Camden's City Hall opened 55 years ago, it was supposed to save the city's downtown.
Now, after years of bureaucratic delays, officials say the notorious structure known as the Parkade is finally being torn down for the same reason.
The three-acre plot will return to its previous incarnation as a park, and it is envisioned as the jewel of a redeveloping downtown. But some city residents and workers say they think the area will turn into something else: An encampment for the homeless who now sleep on the building's edges.
The five-story brick Parkade became one of Camden's first redevelopment projects when city leaders turned public land into a parking garage, retail space, and offices as an incentive to bring a Lit Bros. store to Camden. The parking would attract shoppers, and their cars, to downtown.
But Cherry Hill Mall's opening in the 1960s spread retail dollars elsewhere in South Jersey. The Parkade became best known for its crumbling walls, flying bats, incessant leaks, asbestos infestation, Legionnaires' disease outbreak, dimly lit parking garage, cramped government office space, and coffinlike elevators. The parking garage was designed so poorly that pillars blindsided drivers and the walls of the ramps were colored with bumper paint.
"It wasn't that good of an idea at the time, but it was the best solution that the city fathers had with the tools they had," said Phil Cohen, who has a local history website, DVRBS.com. "And it didn't work."
A bus terminal, government offices, and businesses rented space on the bottom floors, and the parking garage was used by city and county employees, but the building fell into disrepair, former tenants say. The heating and cooling system regularly broke down, and chunks of concrete fell on cars. When it rained, white powder flaked off the garage ceiling and stained car paint.
"It was awful," said Leah Hicks, a city union official who had offices there. She said the former landlord - a company named Nedmac, which is "Camden" spelled backward - would ask for rent months ahead of time to keep a flow of cash. The city owned the property but had a long-term lease with Nedmac, which collected the rent.
Given the condition of the building, seven years ago the Camden Redevelopment Agency voted to knock down the building. In the ensuing years, there were legal fights, a long, $1.6 million asbestos-removal process, difficulties relocating tenants, and technical problems related to the adjacent train station.
The city cobbled together grants from entities including the Delaware River Port Authority for the asbestos removal. It is using a $2.4 million state Green Acres grant for the demolition.
Finally, the CRA recently accepted bid proposals on the demolition. It could come down as soon as late November, according to James Harveson, CRA director of economic development.
The building is now shuttered, but on a recent day one of the doors was unlocked. Homeless people said thieves go inside to steal copper. In that sense, the Parkade has become a larger version of the hundreds of others abandoned buildings that blight Camden.
The city doesn't yet have money to do anything toward the park other than put down some topsoil and grass seed, Harveson said. So after the Parkade comes down, the city will seek money for an "interim park," to include trees, benches, and walkways.
Then it will look for money to pay for the design and construction of a final park envisioned in a CRA report as Camden's "welcome mat."
The planned Roosevelt Plaza would have gardens, performance space, a fountain, a wildlife habitat, and an "urban forest" for "game playing" and "social interaction." It would ultimately be surrounded by mixed-use buildings.
Skeptics see the city's welcome mat turning into a homeless hangout, and they wonder why Camden - so broke it is planning to lay off police officers - would not turn the grounds into a tax ratable.
Already, homeless people sleep on benches on another side of City Hall. And as many as 28 people sleep under the Parkade's awning at night, according to one couple.
"What they're spending to tear this down and make it a magnificent park, they could fix up some of the abandominiums and give people a second chance," said Kim Lionelli, who spent her 39th birthday earlier this month with her husband, Angelo, on a flattened box outside the Parkade. Abandominium is the term in Camden for abandoned houses in which people squat.
"Will it become a magnet for homeless and panhandlers? Without a doubt," said Cohen, who worked at the Parkade. "And that would not be a positive for the city in any sense."
Cohen said "anything that will generate tax dollars" should be built there instead. "It's quite sad that it's come to this, but it should come as no surprise."
But David Foster, head of the nonprofit Greater Camden Partnership, said the park was "a key piece to our overall development plan for downtown." He said the park would be a hub among government offices, Rutgers University, and Cooper University Hospital, which is opening a medical school.
"It becomes the link that connects your main sources of strengths for downtown, and it opens up a beautiful view of City Hall," Foster said.
The Greater Camden Partnership funds the Special Services District, which deploys workers to clean public areas. Those workers will maintain the park, he said, and coupled with good lighting and design, the issue of the homeless can be eliminated.
"As we expect to come out of the economic condition that we're in now and move into a period of growth in the coming years, that's a project that we want to say we got done," he said.
The Parkade sits on top of what was once a city-run garden, Roosevelt Plaza Park, that had hundreds of tulips and daffodils tended to by a legendary city gardener.
The city continued to employ the gardener, Daniel G. Deacon, even after the Parkade was built. But left with only three flower beds next to City Hall, according to his obituary in the Camden Courier-Post, four years after the Parkade opened, he collapsed and died. He was found across the street from his former garden.
In an attempt to stir business development, the Borough Council could suspend a new 15-year parking ordinance that requires businesses to contribute to a parking fund when they don't have enough spaces to accommodate customers, according to a report on APP.com.
Suspending the fee could save some businesses $40,000 to $50,000, the report said. According to the borough's chief financial officer, the current business fund contains $500,000 and has only been used for capital projects, such as repaving existing lots and the construction of a parking garage. Officials hope the proposed moratorium would alleviate the number of vacant storefronts.
It appears the city will not participate in a multi-municipality agreement to withhold vehicle registrations for parking scofflaws.
The decision to hold off on the program was made Thursday by a unanimous vote of the city's Parking Committee.
The subject had been tabled during last month's meeting in order to allow city staff enough time to determine the financial and operational impact that withholding registrations could have on the city.
The proposal stipulates that the city join an agreement with other municipalities across the state requiring that residents seeking to register vehicles pay any outstanding tickets owed to their city of residence and any other community on the list.
Participation in the multi-municpality agreement has long been considered a possible revenue-collection strategy for the city.
Parking Manager Jon Frederick said after weighing the pros and cons of participating it was determined the city does not have the proper technology to facilitate the service.
"It would necessitate a very manual process that would be very labor intensive," said Frederick.
In addition to adding more work for employees in the city tax office, Frederick said there is also concern that it could affect the city's customer service as well.
Frederick said until improvements are made within the city's operating systems, he would recommend participating in the agreement be postponed indefinitely.
The picture of the 474-space parking garage being built next to Western Kentucky University is starting to come more into focus.
In anticipation of a spring opening, the group in charge of Bowling Green's downtown redevelopment district has begun seeking a parking garage manager. The Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority could vote on what company will become the parking garage czar at its monthly meeting Oct. 26.
The request for proposals outlines the maintenance and fee structures the development authority hopes to hand over to the winning company.
The garage would be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the request. Rates would run at $2 for up to two hours and $4 for between two and four hours. Each additional hour would cost $1. Special event parking would cost $5.
However, only 174 of the spaces would initially be open to the public; the other 300 are being leased by WKU. In 2015 that number will increase to 400.
WKU's 30-year lease of spots from the Bowling Green Single-Purpose Entity II, a daughter organization of the development authority, is intended to pay off the $5.5 million parking garage.
The management company would be responsible for the majority of the day-to-day maintenance, while major repairs would fall to the Bowling Green SPE II.
A three-year contract will be awarded to the winning management company, with an option to renew for the next two years.
"To give a longer a contract than that at this point probably wouldn't be in the best interest of the authority," said development authority Chairman Doug Gorman. "You have two things - one, the parking operator might not want to participate past five years. And two, the authority might want to make changes after five years."
Currently, the plan is to wrap the garage in 60,000 square feet of residential space, 25,000 square feet of retail space and 30,000 square feet for a WKU alumni/conference center. The entire project wouldn't be completed for a while after the actual garage is finished. Additionally, a 100-room Marriott Springhill Suites is on track to be built next to the garage by Missouri-based Ferguson Properties.
The hotel and businesses would pay a common area maintenance fee that would allow their guests to park for free in the garage.
Neither the maintenance fee nor money from WKU's leases would be used to compensate the garage manager. Mary Cohron, vice chairman of the development authority, said a manager would only get money made from public parking. That ability would obviously decrease in 2015 when WKU's lease expands to 400 spaces.
"We've tried to make it clear that would certainly impact their ability to make a return," Cohron said. "Maybe that's a sign of the economy that something that's not as profitable is better than nothing."
Heavy automation could make what might seem like an unprofitable venture into a money maker, according to Cohron. She said this would affect the infrastructure of the garage, which is why the manager is being hired so far in advance.
Construction on the site is slated to begin next week. In anticipation of that, 13th Avenue between Kentucky and Center streets has been temporarily closed. David Butler, of construction manager Alliance Corp., said 14th Avenue between Kentucky and Center streets will be closed starting Oct. 25.
Butler said the footprint of the garage will land on the current 14th Avenue, and tearing up the road will be one of the first tasks undertaken when construction equipment arrives next week. Eventually, 14th Avenue will be realigned closer to WKU, either by Alliance Corp. or by the city. If the city does it, Alliance Corp. will reimburse the cost.
After the site excavation is completed, work on the garage's foundation will begin. At the same time, Owensboro-based concrete manufacturer deAM-RON will begin work on the prefabricated concrete pieces that will make up the parking garage, Butler said.
Once the foundation is complete, deAM-RON will begin trucking the pieces to the site and begin to assemble the garage.
The proposal pegs the garage being done toward the beginning of March, though Butler estimated the completion date will be closer to April 1.
Disabled Connecticut drivers will soon need to renew handicap parking permits after specific dates rather than holding lifetime passes. The state Department of Motor Vehicles is phasing out permanent disability parking permits to weed out those who no longer qualify or are using other people's passes.
The DMV stopped issuing new lifetime parking placards in January, but about 310,000 were already in use statewide.
The agency says it will take several years to cancel and replace all of them.
Current pass holders will receive instructions on how to renew, both with their identification to prove they are the assigned recipient and medical proof that the disability is permanent.
Disabled drivers who park in metered spaces downtown will soon have to feed the meter like everyone else.
But in making that decision, City Council members also have directed staff to explore ways to make it easier for disabled people who live downtown to park in city lots and garages.
Council's decision may help end a long-running debate between some downtown merchants and residents.
Current city rules allow anyone with a handicapped driver placard to park in a metered parking space indefinitely without charge.
Merchants near Battery Park Apartments - occupied mostly by low-income senior citizens - say drivers taking advantage of the rule make it harder for potential customers to find a space.
Some disabled downtown residents say they either can't afford to pay to park downtown or can't walk the distance between a deck and their homes.
Council members said this week it makes no sense to exempt disabled drivers from paying to park at metered spaces.
"Because a person's handicapped doesn't necessarily mean they're indigent, and I think a lot of handicapped parkers have a great deal of pride and do not want to be considered as a special case," Councilman Jan Davis said during a council meeting Tuesday night.
Councilman Bill Russell said the city should not bear sole responsibility for downtown residents' parking needs.
"I think the property managers really need to take some lead on this," he said.
"These are their properties and their residents," Russell said.
Disabled drivers will have to begin feeding meters before Thanksgiving. The city will look at allowing disabled drivers who live downtown to park in a city-owned lot on Page Avenue, just across the street from Battery Park Apartments, or in garages at a reduced rate or spaces on the periphery of downtown.
The changes do not affect parking spaces reserved solely for the handicapped.
Residents of Vanderbilt Apartments, a building for low-income residents nearby on Haywood Street, can already park in the Civic Center garage for half of the normal charge, said Ken Putnam, city transportation director.
A city survey found that cars with handicapped placards occupied about 70 of the city's 744 metered spaces downtown, Putnam said.
Point of contention
Parking has been an issue around Battery Park Apartments and the Grove Arcade for several years, and people on both sides say hard feelings have resulted from the current debate.
A city government pledge to provide more parking near the Grove Arcade has never been fulfilled, and Battery Park residents were prominent in a successful battle to stop city plans to build a parking deck next to the apartment building.
This week, an owner of the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar said he is looking for another downtown location for his business because building residents have created an unfriendly atmosphere for the business as a result of his advocacy of parking policy changes.
There have been threats and efforts to discourage people from patronizing nearby merchants, Thomas Wright said.
"It's not nice to be in a place that's not wanted," he said.
Battery Park Apartments resident Clarence Gray told council that his neighbors "don't wake up in the morning and try to antagonize the merchants. … At one time they were our friends. They gave us senior discounts. Now they look at us like we stole their clean underwear."
Abuses on both sides
People on both sides say there have been parking abuses.
Disabled drivers are not the only ones who occupy spaces for long periods, said Shirley Early.
"A lot of those people who use those spaces are people who work in that vicinity … and put quarters in the meter all day long," she said at Tuesday's meeting.
On the other hand, not everyone using a handicapped placard to park for free really needs one, Gray said.
"What they need to do is get the handicapped placards from the nonhandicapped," he said Thursday.
Bill Griffin, co-owner of Four Corners furniture store in the Grove Arcade, told council that parking has a big impact on his business.
"Every shopper that can get downtown … we want them to have the opportunity" to park and shop, he said.
Gray said some disabled drivers do not have the money to pay to park.
"Give us some leeway. Give us some kind of consideration," he said.
The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) will be receiving a much needed 1,800 parking spaces with the addition of a new $34 million parking ramp. The project, planned for the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and High Street, has been approved by the Buffalo Planning Board and is scheduled to be be completed in 2012.
The BNMC presently offers about 6,500 parking spaces for 12,000 daily visitors including 8,500 employees. With the opening of Kaleida Health's Global Vascular Institute in 2011 as well as a planned 390-bed long-term care facility scheduled to open in 2012 across from the ramp site, the daily visitor rate at the medical campus is expected to climb to 15,000. The number of daily employees on the medical campus is expected to rise to 12,500 in the next few years as well. This project seeks mainly to serve the parking demands of this influx of employees.
Along with easing the parking shortage in the medical campus, the project also hopes to relieve parking issues in the surrounding Fruit Belt neighborhood. The ramp, a joint-venture between Kaleida Health, University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, will provide employee parking as well as community parking during non-peak times.
As the BNMC seeks to develop their relationship with the NFTA in order to further mass-transit for the medical campus, the parking ramp project will feature other transportation options including a Buffalo Car Share spot, bringing the total spots located on campus to three, as well as bike racks, and bus and shuttle stops. The BNMC is also in discussions with General Motors and private funders to provide charging stations for electric cars.
While you bask in the sun on an Arizona golf course or enjoy the Las Vegas stage shows, your car parked at the airport soon will no longer have to endure the Nebraska elements.
The Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island is adding paid covered parking to the list of airline passenger amenities.
"I think it will go over very well," said Mike Olson, the airport's executive director. "Second of all, it's an additional revenue source for us."
Tri-Valley Builders started construction on the 42-stall covered garage last week. It should be complete by mid-January.
It's costing $342,500 to build. The airport will charge $8 a day to park there.
Olson predicts 80 percent occupancy -- or about 33 stalls filled each day throughout the year for an annual revenue of about $96,000.
"It fulfills a niche," Olson said. "There's a lot of people who would love to have their vehicles under cover while they're gone ? to protect from all the hail and ice."
"I think it will do well," Olson said. "If it does well enough, we may expand it."
Olson said there's enough land to double the covered garage in the future. It's located to the south of the airport's administrative building.
The covered parking will not have an attendant. All fees must be paid by credit or debit card.
The airport is also spending $309,000 to add another 160 concrete parking stalls to the existing 200 in the open-air, free-parking area.
"We'll expand it out to 360," Olson said.
The passenger load on the weekly Allegiant flights to Phoenix/Mesa and Las Vegas, coupled with the Essential Air Service flights by Great Lakes Airlines to Denver and various charter flights, have put high demand on airport parking.
While people enjoy the free parking, Olson said, there's a market, too, for the covered spaces.
"It's one of those little niche things that people will go for -- I know they will," Olson said.
Rather than continue with no threat of punishment, Emporia city leaders decided Wednesday to enforce parking ticket violations by booting vehicles if more than $100 in tickets have been accumulated.
If vehicle owners do not pay to remove the boot in 48 hours, the vehicle will be towed to the city impound lot. The city may also double the $5 parking fine to $10 if the a ticket is not paid within 10 days of being issued.
"I don't like to do it, but I don't see any other solutions," said Commissioner Bobbie Agler.
As of the end of August, there were a total of 2,685 unpaid parking tickets, some dating as far back as 2008. The total fines on the unpaid tickets were $16,558. The city has not taken action against drivers with unpaid tickets at all this year.
At a study session Wednesday, commissioners debated the pros and cons of booting, towing, taking people to court or doing nothing. The boot-tow concept won partly because it will get people's attention.
"This is behavior modification," Agler said. "They are not going to do it without punitive action."
To double the fine, the city may have to change an ordinance, said City Manager Matt Zimmerman. But the existing ordinance already allows for booting or towing. Therefore, it can be implemented without the city commission formally taking action, though Zimmerman notes an effort will be made to contact the vehicle owner before the boot is attached.
The commission had a similar discussion last year and decided to try a follow-up approach. For two months, city staff wrote or called people to remind them to pay tickets. In some case officers made in-person visits as a reminder, though Zimmerman said some residents found those visits unnerving.
At the time, outstanding fines dipped from $10,000 to $6,000, but the figure has nearly tripled after follow-ups were discontinued. Zimmerman said it was a very labor-intensive program, and some people still ignored the parking tickets.
"Staff feels booting would be a more efficient and effective approach," he said.
In prior years when towing was a possibility, Emporia Police Lt. Ed Owens said, the threat of being towed led to more tickets getting paid. He said towing was a semi-rare occurrence.
Commissioner Julie Johnson wondered whether police officers should bother with booting, towing and impounding as opposed to spending time on other duties. Zimmerman said some of those duties would be handled by office staff, not those out on patrol.
The concern of Commissioner Jeff Longbine was that a booted vehicle would not be moved for several days causing the loss of a parking spot and making the community look bad. Commissioner Kevin Nelson suggested putting a time limit before the vehicle is towed to make sure the spot opens up again for shoppers.
"Most of the time people will remove the vehicle, they are going to want it," Nelson said. "It upsets me to see these numbers going from low to high where we've got people out there who don't care about the merchants staying in business in this town. If they are not paying their parking tickets and parking in front of a business, then the city owes it to the merchants to make enforcement stronger."
Another option was to have ticket violators appear in court if they don't pay parking tickets. Commissioners said the downside is it could bog down the court system. But it may lead to more court fees and could deter people from not paying.
Johnson said that may be a lighter way to deal with it, but Zimmerman said it would be a less-visible approach.
"Once word got out in the community they are making you come to court, it will decrease it," he said. "But I'm not sure it will decrease as much as a booting program just because you don't have that public issue," Zimmerman said.
A network of computerized kiosks to pay for parking will replace individual parking meters in downtown Reno early next year.
The Reno City Council on Wednesday unanimously voted for contract negotiations to proceed with Secure Storage Technologies for the new system of kiosks to replace the 1,200 parking meters.
One or two kiosks on each block would replace meters.
People would put money or credit cards into the kiosks or use their credit card numbers and cell phones to buy parking time or add extra time, said Terry Oliver, a principal of the Reno-based company.
With the convenience of credit cards, he said parking revenues could be increased by up to 60 percent.
The city would use those increased revenues to pay for the system over five years and then own it. No up-front costs are involved.
With the network and sensor devices for each parking space, parking attendants would be given handheld devices alerting them to when time has run out, so they can issue tickets.
Sensor devices at each parking space also detect when a car has left and would be used to wipe out any leftover time.
"The sensor is key," Oliver said.
When asked if the technology is similar to a slot machine route, Oliver, a former Harolds Club executive, laughed and then responded, "absolutely."
Oliver said the network of parking kiosks with sensors is the first in the country. Oliver said five or six other cities are interested in seeing how the system works.
"Reno is going to be our first city," he said. "No other company has this technology."
If it takes off, he said Secure Storage could employ up to 87 people in building the kiosk systems, based on a study by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
About 20 employees and consultants have been involved in creating the system over the past two years, Oliver said.
The company also is guaranteeing that it will put back parking meters in case the system fails to perform as expected.
Oliver said that isn't a big concern as the system will be phased in a block at a time and that any problems would be detected soon.
The city's parking meters are 14 years old and considered to be near the end of their useful life.
Reno had three different vendors put their parking meter systems on the street last winter. Then, its public works staff evaluated them.
Public Works Director John Flansberg recommended Secure Storage because of its guarantees, the lowest cost over five years and the ability to add secured bike parking.
In the biking program, people can use a credit card to securely lock up their own bikes.
In partnership with a local bike group, Oliver said the company also is hoping to use those secured bike spaces to rent bikes as well.
Forrest General Hospital has submitted preliminary plans to add about 1,000 parking slots in the form of a new parking garage.
Hospital officials tell The Hattiesburg American that the proposed construction would start next year on the five-level, 345,000-square-foot garage.
A certificate of need application was filed in August to the Mississippi State Department of Health. The estimated cost is $14.7 million funded from the hospital's cash reserves.
The current campus has 1,563 spaces of surface parking and 399 spaces in the existing garage.
The proposed project is expected to be complete by 2014.
Benedictine University is making strides in its changes in parking, having celebrated the opening of the Ondrak parking lot recently.
A ceremony was held for Ondrak residents the night of Tuesday, Oct. 12, the day before the lot was officially open for use.
"The students have been great with all the stuff we've been putting them through," said Project Director Chad Treisch, referring to the various power outages and water problems that the residents have had to face for the past couple of months.
Treisch helped out in serving pizza to the residents along with Executive Vice President of University Services Charlie Gregory and the construction team.
"I'm really pleased they came up with this idea and that I got to be a part of it," said Gregory. "I don't get to see [students] casually like this."
Sophomore Veeral Vyas, Ondrak resident assistant, attended the ceremony and commented on the progress of construction.
"I'm very excited and eager to see the positive changes BU is going through," he said.
According to Treisch, all projects are on track, and architect Kirk Madison added that progress is moving along quickly.
The parking garage, intended to be 3.5 stories, should be completed within the next few months. With a significant net gain of 396 parking stalls in and around the new parking garage, students will be able to park and get to class more quickly.
"The site will go from dirt and foundations to the completely built exterior," said Treisch.
The timing of the parking garage progress is opportune, as students are becoming restless with the difficulty of parking every single day.
"I usually have to come to school about two hours early just so I can get parking and not be late to class," said freshman Ash Bindra. "If I come less than an hour before class, I park on the grass or on the illegal parts of the lot in desperation and then end up with a ticket."
A new feature that the garage will include is the Available Parking System, which indicates whether the garage is full or if spaces are available. There will also be strategic office space for University Police and Campus Services within the garage, accessible for emergencies or general support.
With a double-bay design, 24-inch drive isles and two-way circulation, the garage will feature safeguards against congestion and delay. Details of the progress can be continuously viewed from the Live Garage Webcam, a fun and functional part of the project.
"It's going to be an exciting next couple months," said Treisch.