Urbana council discusses parking disposition

By Crystal Kang

As a high priority on the downtown Urbana parking study, the city may invest in creating identifiable signage that brands Urbana’s name, similar to the way the University brands its name on signs all over campus.

Urbana Public Facilities Manager Pat Pioletti provided the city council with the latest version of the downtown parking study Monday night.

“It’s the whole idea of branding Illinois,” said Ward 1 Alderman Charlie Symth. “It’s a popular campus thing. We want to better identify Urbana. There’s nothing at airports, train stations or bus stops that identify where Urbana is.”

A medium priority on the study explores ways that downtown Urbana could become more customer-friendly and forgive visitors who violate parking regulations for the first time in the downtown area.

“Almost everyone seems to like the courtesy tickets,” Pioletti said. “The first violation is free and (we’ll) give them a map showing where they could park.”

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    The study categorized priorities and focused in on creating more angle parking spaces as well. As the report suggested, there is a medium priority level to create more angle parking downtown.

    Pioletti said the engineering staff evaluated every street downtown that utilized angle parking. He said that angle parking wasn’t a high priority because there are only two locations downtown where parallel parking could be converted into angle parking.

    Gary Cziko, a member of the Urbana’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, said Rich and Associates, the parking consultants, disregarded his suggestion to utilize back-in angle parking. He said he wanted to show the council that if the city planned to convert to more angle parking, back-in would be a safe way to accommodate other drivers and bicyclists.

    “There’s this new flavor of parking called back-in,” Czizko said. “Many communities are looking at back-in. The benefits (are) you can see better and less accidents. If you want to load your trunk, you’re not standing in the street. You’re standing on the sidewalk. If you’re driving and a biclyclist (rides by), you can make eye contact.”

    Ward 4 Alderman Brandon Bowersox enumerated several ideas that he wanted to see incorporated in the parking update. His main concerns were adding more parking on Broadway Avenue, moving deck rental spaces from the first floor to the second floor and forgiving customers who stay longer than the time alloted in a two-hour parking zone.

    Bowersox emphasized that to be customer-friendly, Urbana needs options that allow customers to park longer than two hours at metered spaces throughout downtown, not just Lincoln Square.

    “At Lincoln Sqaure it is two-hour parking parking, but if you stay longer and get a ticket your ticket will be forgiven if you have receipts to show you were shoppng,” Bowersox said. “Two hours is not enough time for a long shopping visit if you go to a salon or spa, then go out to eat, then check out the galleries and stores.”