February 25th, 2020 11:59 AM
Forest Park has amended parking meter rate hours. Originally in effect until midnight, the new paid parking hours run until 8 p.m. | Alex Rogals, Staff Photographer
By Maria Maxham
The village council Monday voted to scale back the hours during which parking meters on the streets and in municipal lots must be paid, designating 8 p.m. as the cut-off time rather than midnight as previously decided at the Jan. 13 meeting.
Commissioner Dan Novak made a motion to table the discussion until a later date, stating that with less than 30 days of data available there wasn't enough information on return on investment to make the decision.
"My fellow colleagues on the dais," said Novak, "[I'm] just trying to grasp the reaction to changing these hours." From a financial standpoint, he said, he did not feel there was enough time or data to decide on making a change.
But with no second to his motion to table, the discussion took place.
Mayor Rory Hoskins said Novak's concerns were "very valid," but that after receiving feedback from community members and neighbors, he thought the conversation and vote needed to take place.
"This move was in response to feedback the village has received," said Hoskins. "We've heard from the chamber, we've heard from businesses, we've received emails from residents. Some felt that going to midnight was a little extreme."
"Is there a fiscal impact? Yes," said Hoskins. But he said installing the parking boxes in the first place is a big change in the village. "Sometimes change is welcome, sometimes it's not welcome."
Commissioner Joe Byrnes, in defense of scaling back the parking hours, brought up the fact that late-night customers at bars who choose to park on the side streets to avoid meters cause noise and trash concerns for residents there.
Commissioner Ryan Nero spoke about the "social piece and a community piece" involved in making decisions like this.
"Any time you institute something new in the community, there's going to be pushback," said Nero. "Anything new creates a little bit of difficulty." He added that previously, there was no revenue stream from parking and now there is, which, he said, is a good thing.
"We can figure out opportunities for improvement," said Nero. "The community aspect is being able to adapt and adjust and make changes to support the businesses on Madison Street. It doesn't mean it's set in stone. It doesn't mean we can't come back. It doesn't mean it's about reacting. It's about making progress. About doing things that keep Forest Park moving forward."
In an interview, Village Administrator Tim Gillian said Nero stated well his own feelings about the change.
"When you're dealing with small government, you ought to be able to take community and business feedback and make changes that are reasonable," said Gillian. He acknowledged that's not the case with all decisions, but he said that in this situation, it was possible to alter the paid parking hours based on input from the community. He added that most of the elected village officials expressed to him prior to the meeting that they supported the change.
Commissioner Jessica Voogd also agreed with Nero at the meeting, adding that she thought Novak's questions were valid and needed to be considered, but within a more "approachable" format for residents.
"I appreciate [Novak's] fiscal questions," said Voogd, "and over the next several months we should explore that in a more approachable format of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Being smart and listening to public comments and adjusting accordingly is what we should do."
Voogd added that the midnight cut-off voted in during the January meeting might have been excessive.
"Going to midnight might have been extreme for the first go," she said.
Hoskins, Byrnes, Nero and Voogd voted to change the municipal code to reflect 8 p.m. as the cut-off time for meters to be paid. Novak voted against the change, stating, "I abstained from all previous parking votes because I think it's a plan to act versus now we have a plan to react." At the Jan. 13 meeting, however, he voted no on the original proposed parking hours; he did not abstain.
In municipal parking lots designated by the village for the general public and on Madison Street from Jackson to Harlem, meters must be paid at $1 per hour from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. This includes the side streets off of Madison, which are in the 60130 meter zone. All other parking meter rates for all other streets, including Circle Avenue, will be in effect from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There is no paid parking in the village on Sundays.
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