Downtown parking changes head to council meeting Monday

March 21, 2019

DeKALB – City Manager Bill Nicklas said the city’s proposed changes to downtown parking were “very much” well-received by residents and business owners during a public meeting Tuesday.

The meeting, which was held at the DeKalb Public Library and hosted by city officials and the DeKalb Police Department, was a precursor to another public presentation about parking, which will be the subject of Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting at 5 p.m. at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

“There were more business owners than residents [who attended the meeting],” Nicklas said Wednesday. “The Downtown Merchants Association has also talked about this plan, and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. I think they’re generally behind it.”

Nicklas said the merchants association is not an official chartered group, but they see themselves as a body made up of downtown business owners and advocate for each other accordingly.

City officials are considering looser parking restrictions and reserving more parking spaces downtown in anticipation of a growing population of full-time residents. Separate parking surveys for downtown residents and business owners and other community members are available online at www.cityofdekalb.com/FormCenter for those who were unable to attend the meeting.

Residents who live downtown could have designated parking permits for $120 a year, Nicklas said. Business owners would also have the option to purchase a special parking space. All proposals are still under consideration, Nicklas said.

“Some people [who were not downtown residents] thought [the $120 per parking permit] was a little low,” Nicklas said, discussing what ideas residents brought to the table during the meeting Tuesday. “The other idea was to allow permits to be purchased by individual business owners who would rather be able to park in front of their business.”

Officials could designate 40 parking spaces for downtown residents in two lots, including the Ellwood Parking lot, off Second Street just north of Locust Street. Another proposal is to expand daytime parking limits to three hours from two between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Nicklas said some business owners have grown accustomed to having their own parking permits but also worry that being able to park in front of their businesses could compete with customer parking, too.

“Over the decades, individual business owners have been granted permits by former police chiefs,” Nicklas said. “Those would go away, according to the proposal.”

Nicklas said DeKalb Police Department Cmdr. Craig Woodruff will give a presentation to the council in the meeting Monday, using feedback collected from residents and business owners over the last few months.