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April 2014

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Pewaukee mulls paid parking downtown

Village planner to research paid parking in other areas

Village of Pewaukee - The Village Board is warming up to the idea of charging the public for parking.

"Paid parking is still an option," President Tom Calder said.

The idea was rehashed during Thursday night's board meeting and, while no action was taken, trustees did ask Village Planner Mary Censky to offer quotes for a parking study. An outdated study exists from a few years ago and doesn't include recent developments, charged parking or the proposed parking area on Oakton.

The village planner has been tasked with researching other communities, reviewing anticipated village developments and analyzing some costs. The board also wants more information for paid parking options: free resident stickers, purchased resident stickers, enforcement costs, additional staffing costs, summer vs. year-round charges, etc.

"I think there is some merit in updating the information, certainly, but it won't by itself answer a number of questions (the former) study itself raised … There are questions like, 'What is the village's threshold,' 'What are the business owners', the existing property owners' threshold in the downtown area … what will that impart on them?' " said Censky.

Positively Pewaukee's Executive Director Elaine Kroening said she will rely on input from almost 40 communities in the Main Street Program to learn more about the issue. She said she'll also meet with both local businesses and village administrators to discuss it in the coming weeks.

Calder told the board that area businesses, along with Positively Pewaukee, were not in favor of charging for parking or felt pressure to tally up their own lots if public spaces are charging.

"It's the perception, too. When you start bringing in paid parking, does that send a message that we're not welcoming here?" Kroening said.

Parking has been a hot-button issue for the Village of Pewaukee for quite some time. Owners of the former BP site at 221 W. Wisconsin Ave., Tom Davis and Chris Trifilio, have been turned away twice by the Plan Commission because their restaurant plans didn't have enough parking to placate the board.

"The Planning Commission is very aware of the issue of parking. I wouldn't even say (that they're) lukewarm, I would say they're cold toward some of the proposals that come forward because of parking," Trustee Cathy Baumann said.

Censky made it clear that even with the right information, the village would still be left with difficult questions.

"Does the paradigm change when we're downtown? Are people going to walk more than two blocks?" she asked.

"It isn't going to answer for the village - and I think you are right, it's fairly clear on the space that if there is a break-even point, you're going to be very close to it or barely there - so the question will still be 'What is your threshold?' " Censky asked.

The board is expected to hear quotes and more specific directions for the study from the planner during the next meeting, on Jan. 15.

"It's a very contentious issue," Calder said.

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