A newly formed committee will be tasked with finding and reporting suggested improvements for St. Joseph’s downtown parking situation.
On Monday, the city council approved an 11-member group that will hold meetings, discuss problems and ultimately make a report to the council with findings and suggestions.
The group was meant to be an 18-person committee with each council member and the mayor selecting two members, however only 11 could be identified by the time the council voted, though more could be added later.
The committee is made up of members who live, work or own businesses downtown:
President of Downtown First and owner of Nesting Goods on Felix Street Cris Coffman said parking is something that needs to be addressed.
“I own a business in downtown and own property, although I don’t live down here, but we hear parking as a concern often from customers and from people who work and live in the downtown,” Coffman said.
She said the group has not taken any action or met yet, but she believes they will look at not only making parking more convenient for downtown goers, but at finding ways to cut costs and increase revenues into the city’s parking fund.
Owner of Room 108 and Felix Street Gourmet Pat Modlin agreed that the group would be looking into ways to save costs.
“There’s financial considerations on how it operates, the city has kind of a business perspective on trying to make sure there’s good investments with city funds to support the parking,” Modlin said. “Now there’s the garages, but also someone that drives around and kind of monitors and issues citations, and that’s expensive.”
The parking fund is a subsidized fund that operates at a loss annually due to high maintenance costs on parking garages and low inclome from tickets and parking passes sold.
Modlin said he is not going into the group with any ideas on what to do, but hopes the group researches past studies and strategic plans together in order to determine the correct course of action.
“I don’t really have a preset idea of what the right answer is, I just know that we can do better than the way that it is,” Modlin said.
Coffman said she hopes to look into other cities’ solutions and said the problems are caused by a growing downtown.
“I think that there a lot of cities across the country that face these issues, especially growing downtowns like ours,” Coffman said. “I’m hoping that as a group we can go out and seek some of the ways that other cities have dealt with this.”
The committee is expected to have a report for the city council by Feb. 1 of next year.