Free parking on Sundays and the first hour and a half of free parking in village-owned garages could soon be a thing of the past.
The Oak Park Board of Trustees is considering its options in raising revenue from parking downtown.
Oak Park Development Customer Services Director Tammie Grossman walked trustees through a variety of options for parking fee increases. The village’s minimum proposal would raise a combined $1.1 million.
A proposal to reduce an hour and a half of free parking at two village-owned garages – at 1149 Holley Ct. and at the Vantage Apartments at Lake and Forest – to a single hour of free parking would raise an annual $338,654. Trustees also discussed the option of eliminating all free parking at village-owned garages.
The village’s minimum proposal also would raise a projected $329,184 by increasing the one-hour meter rate to $1 dollar for all metered parking, and extending those meters to 8 p.m. would generate $314,150. An increase in parking permits – $5 quarterly for resident permit parking and $10 quarterly for nonresident permit parking – would raise $106,170.
Although the board did not take action at the Monday night meeting, trustees had strong differences of opinion on the various potential increases.
Trustee Deno Andrews said he strongly supported eliminating free parking on Sundays as well as the first hour and a half of free parking in village-owned garages.
He said the garages were already charging under market rate for parking and that an extra $2 would for the first hour of parking would not deter motorists from using the garages.
“I feel strongly about no free parking,” Andrews said. “We have parking on demand. We should be charging for every minute.”
Grossman noted that the board might get pushback from downtown merchants who say shoppers already find it hard to park downtown. She added that the first hour of free parking gets more cars off the metered parking on the streets.
Andrews argued that the free parking amounts to a subsidy for which taxpayers are paying.
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb said making too many changes to downtown parking at once could be a shock to residents and those visiting the village who have become accustomed to free parking on Sundays and getting the first hour free in garages.
He suggested making incremental changes over a period of time, but he said he likely would not support eliminating free parking on Sundays.
He encouraged trustees to take a closer look at the options while downtown developments come online.
“We haven’t shown people there is value there yet,” he said. “When they see the value they will pay the fees.”
Trustees will make a final decision later this year as they finalize a budget for 2018.
* This article was updated to correct information about the village’s minimum proposal to raise the $1.1 million in parking revenue.