Parking, signage upgrades in store for Oak Park

Pay-for-parking, consistent signage goals for village

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The village board is back in session next Monday after a two-week hiatus and will be faced with a typical packed August agenda leading into budget season. Among the list of items to approve will be a proposal to bring pay-by phone to village parking meters.

Jill Velan, Oak Park's interim parking and mobility services manager, gave a presentation last month about the benefits of transitioning Oak Park's meters and pay stations to a pay-by-phone system. The board has backed the idea and Velan's proposal will be back on the board's Aug. 19 agenda.

Trustees now have the chance to formally approve the next steps to making Oak Park compatible with modern technology through the use of a simple smartphone app.

On Monday, trustees will take action on whether to enter into a program with Passport Parking, which allows customers to both pay by phone and use credit/debit cards, as well as cash for on-street metered parking. It also sends text message reminders when a meter is about to expire and users can reload a meter remotely.

There's a one-time, .35 cent convenience fee to use the service per specific parking space—while a customer is using it during a single period parked in that spot. Velan stressed that most people won't mind paying the minimal fee to make up for the risk of getting a ticket or having to come back to refill the meter.

Along with the pay-for-parking discussion, trustees have continually brought up questions about the need to upgrade signage. They also want to clarify where, when and who can park in specific areas around the village. Velan explained that the village's transportation commission has a work plan that involves addressing signage, specifically at the garages to ensure they are customer-friendly.

"There have been attempts to make improvements," Velan said, specifically pointing toward the additional signage added at the Lake and Forest development garage.

There are projects in the works, she added, to address old signs, as well as directional signage that is better recognized.

"We are trying to figure out universal signage," Velan said. "We do recognize that there is an opportunity to help improve that."

New developments coming to town, however—like Lake and Forest and the redevelopment of the Colt site—can put a kink in upgrading signage because the village doesn't want to create a design scheme before the development plans are better known. Parking concerns in relation to new developments have been raised continually from trustees each time they are on the agenda—which are expected to be an ongoing topic of discussion.

Check back with Tuesday for more about garage and parking updates and more stories from Monday's village board meeting.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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OP Expatriate from Elmhurst  

Posted: August 21st, 2013 5:39 AM

There are occasions when I would love to stop in OP and buy some pastries or pick up dinner somewhere, but I leave completely frustrated by a lack of convenient parking. I don't feel like paying at a kiosk at a far away lot for something as quick as that - it would take longer than the purchase itself. Not that OP will miss the taxes generated by a cupcake (or 2), but I never get the sense that the village is really shopper-friendly - or even tries to be.

OP Expatriate from Elmhurst  

Posted: August 21st, 2013 5:24 AM

Agh. During the seven years we lived in OP, dealing with the Parking Department was horrible. Probably the worst aspect of OP life - lots changed frequently, getting plowed in during the winter, inconvenient in/out times... We ended up paying more for a privately-managed space just to avoid visits to the rude, inefficient, and entitled Parking folks.

June from Oak Park  

Posted: August 20th, 2013 2:45 PM

The parking situation is a joke. Overnight parking is permitted on my block, or is it? It depends on who you ask. No one gets ticketed. There's never any available parking day or night.

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 1:37 PM

I'd say OP is rather residential parking unfriendly as it is. As a condo owner, I'm greatly restricted as to where I can park.

I wish I was a millionaire too from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 11:43 AM

Astounding. You pay $10000+ a year on property taxes, and you can't even park in front of your own house. Wow.

Do the math from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 11:28 AM

Don't forget people, we've still got a million or two to pay off on the parking structure a previous village board essentially gifted to OPRF. And since we promised the poor, struggling teachers at OPRF free parking for at least 25 years, that subsidy needs to come out of the hides of anyone else stoopid enough to park on the streets of Oak Park.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 11:19 AM

If you want to see want free, convenient parking is all about, visit La Grange downtown. It is the friendliness parking in Cook County.

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 10:53 AM

"The flip side of business friendly is resident unfriendly." I don't think this has to be true. The world is full of communities with thriving business districts and good residential quality of life. Maybe we shouldn't start with the premise that somebody has to get screwed over, so let's debate who it should be.

Green Grass from Oak Park  

Posted: August 19th, 2013 8:00 AM

Obviously OP signage needs improvement, but be careful when holding Forest Park up as Parking Utopia. Do you really want free unlimited (except overnight) parking in front of your house? Parking in FP is great for Madison Street employees, okay for customers, but terrible for residents; and, of course, the FP business owners still whine about needing MORE free parking (via eminent domain). Remember- The flip side of business friendly is resident unfriendly.

Oakparker from Oak Park  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 11:05 PM

I agree with all the comments - it is amazing how Oak Park government provides less and less reasons to shop here. Not all of us can walk or bike to the stores - sorry, but other towns have made it easier to spend at their stores.

love the technology, but...  

Posted: August 18th, 2013 9:28 AM

Great, now it will be easier for those you "meter feed" Or I guess you can be like papa spiros and park where ever you want, whenever you want and he never gets a ticket?

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:47 PM

Attracting and keeping businesses is difficult. Taxing and ticketing residents is easy. Village government is just lazy and complacent.

Fed Up from OP  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 1:44 PM

Don't park legally or put away your car at night....if you do, the Village will have to declare another "revenue shortfall." LOL. This Village is hilarious. They want revenue, but won't be business-friendly enough to get, they'll just find ways to tax and tax and tax the residents. And then they wonder why we hate them and wonder what value they deliver.

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 12:54 PM

Speaking of taxes and parking, I had another $30 nap the other night. I fell asleep while reading a book, woke up shortly after 2:00 PM and realized to my horror that I needed to still put my car in our drive way. When I went out to my car, it already had a $30 ticket for night parking. Gotta love this village!

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 12:50 PM

Similar to the I-Pass, the more convenient that our government makes it to pay for items like parking, the more numb we become as a society to the fact that we are being overtaxed. The issue shouldn't be how to make paying easier but why we have to pay at all. See Forest Park as an example of a free parking zone!

OP Transplant  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 12:12 PM

Ed - I think the parking signage is deliberately confusing. The village's goal is not to restrict parking. It's to ticket drivers who fail to interpret the labyrinth of regulations. It's a revenue source.

Ed McDevitt from River Forest  

Posted: August 17th, 2013 11:11 AM

As I've noted in WJ before, it would be good if the village looked at the really silly conflicting and confusing signs all over the village that give you permission to park on one sign and take it away on the two below it, except when certain conditions prevail, such as when maybe mimes are present or it's migratory season.

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:29 PM

And good signs for security cameras.

Neighbor from Oak Park  

Posted: August 16th, 2013 11:19 PM

Give us some security cameras in the parking garages, especially the Lake Street one. Women do the majority of shopping, so if you want us to come and shop, we want to feel safe. The Nordstrom garage in Oak Brook-this is not!

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