GALENA, Ill. — Galena City Council members took steps this week to try to address downtown parking problems.
Actions approved by the council include increasing the daily parking rate for city parking lots from $5 to $10, hiring a community service officer to enforce street parking limits and developing additional parking spaces.
The moves come after months of discussions among city officials about how to address downtown parking, which is often in short supply due to large amounts of out-of-town motorists.
“Tourism has grown,” said Council Member Marc McCoy. “The demand for parking at peak times is at a premium.”
Council members previously discussed implementing paid parking on downtown streets. City staff estimated it would cost $8,600 per parking station, and 28 stations were recommended — an initial investment of about $240,000.
If they charged a rate of 50 cents per hour, the pay stations would generate enough revenue to cover their initial cost within five years, according to city staff.
But council members balked at making that kind of initial investment — at least for now.
“We can see how these changes work before we do paid parking,” said Council Member Pam Bernstein. “These kiosks are expensive.”
McCoy said he also was concerned that requiring motorists to pay for parking would give the downtown a negative perception.
The city instead will hire a part-time, seasonal community service officer to enforce the current three-hour parking limit downtown. The wage rate for the position has not been determined yet.
City staff is working to create more parking spaces downtown. City Administrator Mark Moran said design work is underway for resurfacing a parking lot next to City Hall and creating more spaces.
McCoy said area properties also are being evaluated as potential sites for new lots or a parking ramp, though the latter project would be costly.
“Right now, building something like that is estimated at $30,000 a space,” McCoy said. “That would solve our problem, but it would be very expensive.”
Council members also directed city staff to investigate other options to address the issue.
Moran said the city will begin the process of allowing companies such as Uber and Lyft to offer their services in Galena. The development of a shuttle service also will be explored.
Mayor Terry Renner said he hopes all of these initiatives can improve the parking situation. If not, he said paid parking spots might need to be considered further.
“It’s the biggest complaint that we have for downtown right now,” he said. “We want to make the right choice to get this problem solved.”