Since the closing of the popular surface lot behind Bank One, at Lake and Marion Streets, use of the Holley Court parking garage may have increased by as much as between 15-20 percent, estimates Village Parking Services Manager Alva Johnson.
Johnson said the village has only received a handful of complaints from residents upset over the loss of the surface lot, which featured over 100 metered public parking spaces. The only noticeably major backup?#34;in the form of a long line of cars?#34;occurred shortly after the lot closed, and was in part due to the fact that only one cashier was on duty, he said.
Since that time, the cashier's booth on the Marion Street side has been consistently open, which has significantly helped.
He added that increased use of the parking structure is not something to fret about.
"More people using it is a good thing. It's not good to only have a garage used at 80-percent capacity," he said, noting that the top levels are still consistently vacant.
Johnson said the village, at the direction of the board, has already begun investigating various options to help maximize efficient use of the garage. Options include making the lower one-and-a-half levels customer-only parking, which would involve forcing permit holders to occupy the top decks. The village also already has money budgeted for capital improvements to the garage, with re-striping plans that would increase the number of available spots. Also under consideration are ideas for revamping the entry and exit traffic pattern in the structure.
Johnson said village staff is hoping to present a plan to the village board and move forward with some of the proposed changes "as soon as possible."
The garage currently holds 726 parking spaces.
Downtown Oak Park lost 102 parking spaces in July with the closure of the Bank One parking lot at the corner of Ontario and Marion streets, making an already scarce commodity even scarcer.
"Parking has always been an issue in the downtown area because people want to park close to their destination, which is understandable," said village spokesman David Powers.
Powers suggested that villagers try to Holley Court surface parking lot a block west of the Bank One lot by Harlem Avenue. That parking lot contains 150 metered spaces and is not heavily used, said Powers.
There are also 340 parking spaces in the Forest and Lake parking garage and a metered parking lot between the garage and the Nineteenth Century Club, he said.
The village board recently put off adding 300 parking spaces to the Holley Court parking garage's 740 parking spaces.
Chen said that Downtown Oak Park has a total of nearly 2,000 parking spaces.