Kruzan Proposes Parking Garage Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2007

Bloomington, IN -- Mayor Mark Kruzan said today he would send a proposal to the City Council this month to improve parking in the City's downtown garages.  A recent parking consultant study recommended the City better manage its existing garage space inventory.

Among the measures Kruzan is recommending are:

Kruzan called the garage management changes important first steps toward overall parking reform in the city center.  "The garages are the keystone of downtown parking," he said. "There is consensus to better utilize those spaces. Doing so will provide a strong foundation for assessing what our long-term parking enhancements need to be."

With the opening of the 7th and Walnut Streets garage in 2001 and the 7th and Morton Streets garage in 2003, the City went from one garage on 4th and Walnut Streets with 340 spaces to owning three garages with more than 1,200 spaces.  The 7th and Morton Streets garage services the adjacent 160-room Hilton Garden Inn in addition to downtown employees, residents and visitors.

"Parking garage management is a very specialized enterprise, especially when there is a hotel involved," Kruzan said.  "The downtown will benefit from having someone with the professional expertise and organizational capacity show us how we can maximize both customer service and the use of those assets."

Currently the City sells nonreserved parking permits at the 4th and Walnut Streets garage, but not at the 7th and Morton Streets or 7th and Walnut Streets facilities.  Kruzan said that while everyone agrees the use of such permits should be expanded there and to the other garages, it will take more hands-on management to do so and assure permit holders they will always have a space to park in.

Kruzan met with REI Property Management staff and executives about managing the garages after reviewing the draft report prepared for the City by Walker Parking Consultants, an unrelated firm.  Kruzan and City staff visited the five garages REI manages in Indianapolis, including one owned by the City of Indianapolis.

"I was impressed by REI's customer-service orientation," Kruzan said. "I like that they have experience with municipal garages and that they are based just up the road."

Proposed legislation, scheduled to be introduced to City Council on June 20, includes an appropriation for REI's management fee of $4,400 per month, which would cover all three garages. Also included in the request would be personnel costs including employer taxes and benefits of $14,600 per month.  The City has already allocated funds for current garage personnel and supplies, so the net personnel and supplies costs will total $11,100 per month.

The City would continue to retain all parking revenues and to fund garage-related expenditures including proposed additional staffing at the garages. The City will seek approval of the proposed three-year contract with REI from the Board of Public Works on June 26.  There is a mutual 90-day cancellation provision in the agreement.

"The Council and Board of Public Works meetings will provide three opportunities for public input on the topic of parking garage management," Kruzan said. "We encourage everyone to share their insights and ideas."

Kruzan said an additional advantage of getting a garage management firm on board would be to tap its expertise regarding additional garage expenditures the City would be making.  "We'll be talking to them about garage safety, lighting, and signage," he said.  "I'll be asking for their recommendations about additional investments we may need to make."

In addition, Kruzan said the City would work with the Chamber of Commerce's parking team to determine the best plan for implementation of metering devices in the core of downtown to further increase parking availability.

"We will continually monitor and assess how this new management system impacts overall downtown parking supply and demand," Kruzan said.  "This, along with input from the public, the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bloomington Inc., BTOP, and other community partners, will allow us to make informed, strategic decisions concerning parking meters and construction of additional parking facilities."


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