City suspends parking metersThe City Council voted unanimously at its July 10 meeting to declare a one-year moratorium on all of River Falls’ parking meters, effective July 23, 2012, to July 22, 2013, with decals on them to signal the change.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The City Council voted unanimously at its July 10 meeting to declare a one-year moratorium on all of River Falls’ parking meters, effective July 23, 2012, to July 22, 2013, with decals on them to signal the change.
“This ordinance and some of the ideas behind it have been building for a long time,” said city Management Analyst Paul Fagin.
He and Police Chief Roger Leque spent about a year studying the parking-meter situation. The city’s work plan prompted the effort, which included gathering input from city staff, downtown business owners and citizens.
Fagin cited again the main problems: Malfunctions, frozen meters with wet coins that can’t be deposited until dried, obsolete parts, patrons that don’t carry pennies and nickels, and erratic revenue.
The debate has continued since the city installed the meters in 1970: Are they a quaint, attractive, desirable characteristic of River Falls or are they annoying and not even needed to control parking? Some people fear that not having meters will drive local employees to the prime, nearby spots needed for shoppers.
Fagin pointed to a handful of studies done since 1989 but said no comprehensive study had been conducted and no real consensus reached as to “what type of parking enforcement was needed.”
He and Leque have said before that a moratorium on feeding the meters would demonstrate whether they are needed or not. They say the study data will help River Falls make an informed decision, especially since keeping them will mean spending money for updated equipment.
Council Member Christopher Gagne confirmed that the meter monitor would keep their job and asked if the council would be receiving study-progress reports.
Fagin said there would be quarterly reports, that the plan includes breaking the city into three parking zones and analyzing the zones one at a time.
Council Member David Reese asked if the city would collaborate with UW-River Falls, saying that people have concern that lower-cost or free parking will drive students to spaces intended for downtown-business patrons. Fagin said yes, they’d be consulting with the university, adding that Leque retains the right to create parking-enforcement rules where needed.
Council Member Jim Nordgren said, “I think there are many reasons to put this ordinance in place,” then urged the city to be “extremely cognizant” about responding to complaints or issues and paying attention to feedback.
Fagin agreed, responding, “This whole process should be transparent, and we really want to gather all the public feedback possible.”
People can contact Fagin with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or can interact with the city via Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read the previous story about parking meters: www.parkingmeterstory.com