The analysis will project the district’s supply of parking and the future demand for it over the next five years in the hill area, which roughly runs south from Michigan to Fountain and east from Bostwick to College, and suggest possible solutions to ease an expected parking and traffic crunch due to new construction there.
The study also will look at using public transportation as an alternative to parking, and take from 20 months to two years to complete.
The city’s Parking Services Department is set to meet with the business group and the Neighborhood Business Specialist Program this week to discuss the bids and the work that needs to be done.
“The lower bid expects more work from Parking Services,” said Pam Ritsema, of Parking Services, in explaining the $50,000 difference in the bids.
Walker Parking Consultants and Carl Walker Parking bid on the project.
Whichever consultant is chosen, it’s certain the city will not foot the entire bill for the work. Business owners have been asked to share the tab, as have Spectrum Health, the Van Andel Institute and Grand Valley State University. The parking study will almost surely be the most expensive one ever undertaken in a neighborhood business district.
Parking Commissioner Betsy Westman said a dozen local businesses were enthused about the city’s plan to offer a variety of services to its monthly parking customers. She reported that most of the dozen vendors who recently responded to the proposal offered automotive services, such as car washing and oil changing, but added that dry cleaners and flower shops also were interested. The services would be done while parking customers are at work.
Westman said the next steps will be to determine how the program should be promoted, how many services should be offered, and how many parking spaces should be set aside for customers who want the service.
Mayor John Logie suggested that a pilot program be offered at a single ramp so glitches could be ironed out before the plan is implemented throughout the system.
“You’ve got to take little baby steps before you take big ones. But we can get there,” he said.
“Starting in one facility would allow us to gauge the demand,” added Ritsema.
Parking Services Director Ted Perez is leaving his city post on June 30. Perez is one of about 70 city employees taking early retirement from a program recently offered by the city as a way to erase some of the red ink from the upcoming fiscal-year budget. The program gives workers who have been with the city for 28 years another two years of service, which takes them to the 30-year retirement mark.
Parking Services Operations Superintendent Bob Bielecki also is taking the early leave before the city’s new fiscal year begins on July 1.
John Tully, managing partner of Warner, Norcross & Judd, and noted businessman Bob Sullivan were appointed last week to the Parking Commission.