Study: Parking Structure Not Needed

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MTT News Desk's picture
Francesca Mastrangelo

A recent study suggests there is little need for a downtown parking ramp, news that was met with chagrin by many local business owners who have been calling on the city to build the structure with Tax Increment Financing.

Talk of constructing a new parking ramp is still circling, and parking limitations in the downtown area and beyond have been the source of much frustration for some time now, according the group that has been applying pressure on city leaders. In response, the City of Middleton recently hired Walker Parking Consultants to conduct the downtown parking ramp study.

On February 26, Philip Baron of Walker Parking Consultants presented the results of the draft study to Middleton residents. Baron offered a summary of the study’s findings, discussing the parking counts that were conducted, noting the total amount of public and private parking spaces, and pinpointing the peak weekday and weekend parking demands.

In his overview of the current Middleton parking inventory, Baron suggested that roughly 231 parking spaces were not counted in the supply, in order to represent that those spaces are hard to locate or frequently unavailable. Due to difficulties that prevent use, such as inclement weather or obscure locations, the percentage of spots that were rendered unusable appeared to surprise many residents in attendance.

When the floor opened for questions and comments, many expressed their concern for the lack of available parking. Alderman Gurdip Brar joined in the conversation, asking, “what can be done to make all parking spaces available?” A significant amount of those in attendance echoed Brar’s sentiments, vocalizing their support for increased parking availability.

The Walker Parking Consultant study found that after identifying Middleton’s parking issues, current parking needs can be taken care of with the current parking supply.

Baron indicated that “even with existing vacancies filled, in addition to future anticipated parking demand, there would still be an adequate supply of parking spaces within a reasonable walking radius and that a public parking ramp is not justified at this time.”

Resident and local engineer/urban planner Wayne Pferdehirt agreed, noting, “there is lots of parking, it’s just underutilized.”

Not everyone shared the same outlook, and some voiced their support for the construction of a parking ramp as an immediate solution. Resident Bill Holey chimed in, stating, “a ramp is going to be necessary at some point and we should just get it built.”

The mayor and plan commission staff noted that this was not the last informational meeting.

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