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How much are you willing to pay for commuter parking?

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There's a nine-year wait to get a space in a commuter parking lot in Naperville. Think about that. Nine years. You could move here when your kid is entering kindergarten and he could be in high school by the time you finally get the call: "Mr. Smith, we have a space for you."

There are remote Park and Ride lots, which help. There are bus routes, which, if you're lucky enough to live within walking distance of, can get you to the train. But Naperville, with the two busiest stations in the entire Metra system, and oodles of parking decks for shoppers and diners downtown, has no parking decks for commuters.

Other towns do, like Downers Grove. Why, there's even government money available to help build such decks, you just need to ask Metra and they'll see what they can do.

The question is this: How much would you be willing to pay to park in a deck for commuters near the downtown train station? Three dollars a day? Five dollars a day? User fees would have to cover the costs, city officials say.

Also, the city is doing a study of the area around the Fifth Avenue Station. How important is it to you that the study include consideration of a parking deck for commuters? In other words, with sites like the public works facility ripe for redevelopment, what should be done with that land: parking deck for commuters, or something else?

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41 Comments

I lived in Naperville for eight years...never made it to the top of the list.

One comment that I was suprised NOT to see was that you have to give the city of Naperville a $50 deposit (or at least you did in 1988) just to get them to put your name on bottom of the list.

I wonder how many names and $50 constitute a nine year wait? I almost forgot to ask for my deposit back...I also wonder how often that happens, especially if one moves out of state????

To the last Annonymous

You might want to go to the Bolingbrook Village Hall. They might have entered into an agreement with the Village to ticket and tow cars. Police can enforce ANY rules with such an agreement on private property.

FYI ... ALL parking at the Bolingbrook Promenade IS FREE! You don't have to put money in those meters. They were installed as a way of generating more revenue for the mall by tricking people into thinking they must put money in the meters. Technically, one is not required to put money in those meters at the Promenade because they are on private property. What that means is the police can't issue you a ticket on the mall property! The police can issue you a ticket only when the meters are on public streets. I never put money in them and nothing ever happened until today. Today I was issued a courtesy warning by mall security stating in the future my car MAY be towed because the meter had run out. It is just a scare tactic to get people to put money in the meters. I saw this all on a news investigative report about 6 months ago. The news report only talked about the Bolingbrook Promenade and how we don't need to pay the meters. I don't know if the mall can change this though so you might want to check it out further.

Another Anonymous,

While I do agree with several of your points in concept I do thing that we all have to realize that the greedy landlords would never, ever pay out of their pockets or profits. No matter how the tax is levied or disguised the bottom line is that it will end up being a pass thru tax to the leaseholder who in turn will increase the cost of the goods sold to the consumer. In the end it will be the consumer who foots the cost of the parking. Does it really matter if it is tacked on to the cost of merchandise or if it is paid up front in the parking garage?

In some ways it might be cheaper to pay it up front. On the other hand there are some people who come downtown to window shop, walk, etc without any intent of purchasing so that would be an additional cost to them over what is currently free.

With some understanding and compassion that everyone in Naperville does not live in a tear-down mansion maybe parking could be free during the day and a fee charged after 5 PM because it is the "entertainment district" crowds that are putting the strain on our parking resources. Or maybe the city council should add a $5 tax on the valet parking?

Anonymous and John Q. Public,

I disagree with both of you.

First, I disagree with Anonymous that charging the consumer with 5 to 10 dollars in parking would have no effect on business downtown. It would have a detrimental effect. I would personally never pay to park downtown Naperville even if I can afford to pay. I don't go to Chicago because I am not willing to pay 20 to 30 dollars to park. I think it is insane to pay for parking when you can go elsewhere and get the same product, service or food for the same price without paying for parking!

Second, I disagree with John Q. Public. Parking should not be free. It should be paid for...but not by the consumer but by the landlords who failed to provide parking such as with garages under their buildings. The landlords downtown are the ones reaping the windfall profit from the subsidized parking provided by the city at taxpayers' expense. They can charge 50 bucks a square foot and get away with it. They should contribute part of their rental income to fully subsidize the parking garages that allow them to command and charge 50 bucks a square foot. If you get 2 miles away from the downtown, rent sinks to 15-20 dollars per square foot. Landlords have to build and pay for their own parking. Sometimes the retailer partake in the expense of maintaining those parking lots after the landlord builds them. The consumers don't pay for them and should not. Consumers paying for parking is always a deterrent for business. Basically, the landlords and merchants make less profit because of this expense. They simply can not pass it on to the consumer as competitive forces would chase consumers to other areas where the landlords and merchants are willing to work on less profit after correctly paying for the cost of parking.

In downtown Naperville, the landlords are establishment folks with very STRONG CONNECTIONS to City Hall. They masterminded this WINDFALL PROFIT for themselves by pressuring our city council members to have the taxpayers subsidize the parking. Our council members have shamelessly worked to benefit the establishment folks since the beginning of time.

The Napergate Man spent 10 years trying to explain all this to all of us. It seems like no one seems to understand what is going on including Mr. John Q. Public or Anonymous.

Maybe because you guys just can't understand the depth of the corruption in City Hall the way the Napergate Man understood it. Maybe you guys are a little naive and gullible and do not want to believe the forces of evil could be so INCREDIBLE. Maybe you guys are just nice guys who can't imagine such UNDERHANDEDNESS between city officials and establishment folks.

I am guessing neither of you have ever read a Napergate ad. I am sure Mr. Public has not as he arrived in Naperville after the Napergate Era ended. I am impressed with the progress Anonymous is making day by day even though he is completely off base when he wants the consumers to pay for parking instead of the landlords with this windfall profit they are generating. Don't tell me that the landlords will just pass it on to the consumers by increasing rents forcing merchants to charge more so they can afford the higher rent and thus the consumer will pay for it one way or another. Market forces will not tolerate that. There is a limit as to how high rent can be before vacancies prevail in any market. Thus the landlords will have to absorb the cost of parking which was their cost in the first place.

The landlords downtown have increased their rent to the point that only chains can afford the rent. As anyone can see, any Mom and Pop shop who was an expiring leases can not afford the new higher rents and pretty much goes out of business at that unfortunate moment.

I suspect even chains will soon start going out of business forcing landlords to reduce rent or have vacancies. I am sure everyone was shocked to hear STARBUCKS closed down 622 stores. This shows even STARBUCKS has a ceiling as to how far they can tolerate in high rent before they can turn a profit.

In summary, there should be no additional sales tax imposed on the consumer to pay for these parking garages especially when most people in downtown are from Naperville visiting their OWN downtown that they are already subsidizing with their OWN home real estate taxes. The cost of these parking decks should be assessed in the form of a SPECIAL REAL ESTATE tax to the landlords of downtown Naperville. Most landlords in downtown Naperville are not only well to do but FILTHY RICH because we have subsidized them for a decade. The owners of the Promenade Buildings and the Barnes and Nobles Building are the same and in both cases avoided their responsibility of providing underground parking for their magnificent buildings. The reason given to me in a meeting with Patti Roberts, Executive Director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance in a face to face meeting, was they felt it would be to EXPENSIVE. With revenues of over 50 bucks a square foot, they could have easily afforded it. They simply would rather have the taxpayers subsidize the parking and pocket the windfall profits....they have the city council members right where they want them so they can get what they want.

When I asked Ms. Roberts if the downtown merchants are bearing the cost of all this parking with the increased special sales tax, she admitted it only pays a small fraction of the total cost. I asked her who was paying for it then...she admitted it was being subsidized by the Naperville Homeowner through increased taxes.

I agree with Anonymous that this will be a hot topic in the next election. But unfortunately the downtown landlords and merchants will provide the proper help to brainwash the public into going with the establishment line.

This is why the Napergate Man and his weekly ads are missed by so many. He provided a counter balance to all the propaganda being put out by establishment folks and the taxpayers finally figured out the truth and voted many council members out during his decade of blasting city hall. One time he voted 4 of them out in one election!
If the truth can be told and PUBLICIZED, the establishment candidates and council members in cahoots with the old time controlling folks in time will not have a chance.

These blogs sites will not do the job. Their viewership is limited. I suspect the Napergatians eventually figured this out and flocked back to the streets to develop grass roots movement for the next election. Let us hope they can make a difference. At one time I recall hundreds of them on this blog site banging their heads with 5 guys from the establishment and getting nowhere. No one converted anyone else to their side so it was an exercise in futility. It was a waste of time!

It is my feeling that without the Napergate Man or someone like him pumping money for 700-1000 dollars full page ads in the Naperville Sun on a bi-weekly basis, the status quo will continue in Naperville for many decades to come. UNFORTUNATELY!!!

Anonymous,

You got me. No, I do NOT have hard facts to back up my opinion. I do, however, have personal experience and observations. I almost never go downtown to eat at the pricier restaurants, or to partake of the nightlife. I don't have the budget to do those kinds of things as often as I would like.

About 98% of the time I do go downtown, it’s to go to Nichols Library; to take my family to eat at one of the reasonably-priced establishments like Noodles & Company, Pot Belly Sandwiches, Egg Harbor Cafe, or even Jimmy John’s; to get a haircut; to go to the YMCA; to go Anderson’s Books; or to get a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s if it’s still morning and I happen to be in the area. There are good alternatives for all of these businesses that are about as close to where I live as downtown is, so you can be sure I’m not going to choose the downtown option if it’s going to cost me $5-10 extra to park.

Finally, while I don't have firm numbers, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in Naperville who has young kids, a lot of years left on a mortgage, and college and retirement to save for. I think a lot of the young families I see downtown are there to do the same kinds of things that my family and I do while we're there. In fact, I know they are because I see them at the places we go. I doubt those people would pay $5-10 extra to park, either. But that's just my opinion.

-JQP

John Q Public,

Nice to see your opinion, now back those thoughts up with some hard facts.

All over Chicago metro area, including other downtown areas - Naperville included, shopping malls, etc the convenience of valet parking has skyrocketed. People are gladly willing to pay $5-$10 dollars for the convenience of not having to find a place to park their cars and especially in inclement weather not to have to walk a distance in the wind, rain, snow, etc.

Charging $5-$10 to park in Naperville would still be a huge bargain considering what it costs to park in downtown Chicago without even considering the additional cost to get there.

You have obviously bought into the fear that no one is going to come if parking isn't free. That is all it is fear and bunch of BS. People who are coming to downtown Naperville for dinner are not coming for a dinner with a total bill of $20... if they were they would be heading to a fast food restaurant in a strip mall on Rt 59. Heck most of the cocktails downtown are more than the $5-$10 I'm suggesting. I totally reject your suggestion that adding $5-$10 to the total price of a night out in downtown Naperville is going to deter anyone from coming or cause them to say let's go somewhere else. The fact remains that downtown Naperville has been marketed as a destination and as long as that demand exists it should be capitalized. If the day ever comes when demand drops off that would be an appropriate time to revisit the question of offering free parking. Until then supply does not meet demand and the City should capitalize on good thing.

Anonymous on July 24, 2008 11:25 PM wrote:

"An absolute ton of revenue dollars is going uncollected just because the city council believes the BS spouted by the downtown merchants and their paid mouthpiece the Chamber of Commerce. Let's face reality, downtown has become a destination. People meet and go out for dinner and drop a couple of hundred dollars on food and sometimes just as much in a clothing store. Adding on another $5-$10 to park isn't going to deter anyone. Let's not forget how many of these same patrons are not shy about dropping their car off with a valet before they go in to eat an expensive meal."

I disagree. We have a downtown that's been built up on the premise of free public parking, and changing that dynamic would definitely impact the business climate. Not every business there is a high-end restaurant. There are quite a few retail establishments and cheaper restaurants whose business would suffer quite a bit if we started charging $5-10 to park.

Just a quick comment on the parking meters at the Bolingbrook Promenade. The parking meters were not placed by the city of Bolingbrook. They are owned and operated by the private company that runs the Promenade. Paying the meters is strictly voluntary and you cannot get a ticket for not paying. Although this is not made entirely clear by just looking at he meters.

While we are comparing all of these apples to apples...

All of the parking at the Bolingbrook Promenade is not free. Parking meters were installed for the primo spots in front of the stores. Parking further away from the stores in the lots is free. Quite a few cities have parking meters throughout their downtown business district. With some of the new high tech parking meters that are available maybe it is time to explore this option.

I disagree with Some Thoughts about charging city employees to park in the city hall parking deck and do not agree that this is asinine idea at all. Parking has value. Providing parking has a real cost. Take away all that free parking and suddenly all of the city employees have to make a choice... they can pay for a permit or they can park down at Centennial Beach and hoof it over. (From the looks of quite a few city hall employees they wouldn't be suffering from the extra exercise, but that can be saved for another thread.) Parking is in high demand in the downtown area. The rules of a free marketplace demand we let everyone compete for the available spots and charge whatever the market will bear.

An absolute ton of revenue dollars is going uncollected just because the city council believes the BS spouted by the downtown merchants and their paid mouthpiece the Chamber of Commerce. Let's face reality, downtown has become a destination. People meet and go out for dinner and drop a couple of hundred dollars on food and sometimes just as much in a clothing store. Adding on another $5-$10 to park isn't going to deter anyone. Let's not forget how many of these same patrons are not shy about dropping their car off with a valet before they go in to eat an expensive meal.

Now that, to me, just adds insult to injury. We pay for the parking lots. The valet use them for free and then gets to charge the patrons for their free use of our lots. Only in Naperville would this make any economic sense.

What would be real sweet would be to see if there was a way to use the I-Pass technology to let people pay for their parking automatically.

Now back to the apples and oranges. Some of our city council members believe or have been led to believe that it is impossible to provide enough commuter parking to meet the demand. That is simple untrue. Because if it is true then, using the same logic, we must immediately stop all planning for any additional parking decks in the downtown business district. The streets are already at capacity and God knows Washington can not handle any additional traffic.

We can't have it both ways. We can't say that we can build and build and build parking decks to serve the merchants and turn around and say that it is impossible to build parking decks to serve commuters. The argument simply doesn't hold water.

Regardless the Rt 59 parking lots are enormous and the potential to expand the existing capacity is huge. There is more flexibility to build a deck in phases at Rt 59 than there is downtown. That would give added capacity and the flexibility to temporarily divert some commuters out to Rt 59 while a downtown deck is built. The potential does exist to provide parking for everyone who wants to commute downtown without a need for a waiting list, much less a 9 year waiting list. For that to happen though we need a city council who cares enough about residents who commute by train to make it a priority and to also be committed to making it happen.

Watch for this to be a real hot topic during the next municipal election. We need city council members who can get things done to improve the quality of life for all commuters. We need city council members who can find solutions to our problems and who will work tirelessly to accomplish a vision of adequate parking for all commuters.

Some thoughts on

I understand your point that people are not likely to pay for something they can get for free. Yet that is exactly what is happening -- the merchants are getting parking at a subsidized rate. Not free, but not market cost, either. Taxpayers are subsidizing the downtown merchants and I, for one, don't like it one bit. The merchants can't make an economic case to justify paying for parking without a taxpayer subsidy. How is it that the city can make an economic case to subsidize private business? The incremental increase in sales tax and property tax revenues that stem from the parking decks will not be nearly enough to cover the cost of the structures. The subsidy is nothing more than a unilateral transfer of taxpayer money to the merchants.

Let's keep in mind that the streets aren't getting any bigger -- how are all these additional cars going to get to and from the parking. There is a finite limit to how big the downtown can get...and there is a finite limit to much people will pay in taxes. The downtown growth is not self-sustaining. The police need a budget increase to pay for the cost of patrolling the downtown. Where does that money come from? More subsidized parking is needed. Where does that money come from?

To carry this to the extreme, what if we subsidized the pricing of products the merchants sell? That would also attract more people to the downtown. I think we can all agree that would be ridiculous, but that is what we're already doing. We are directly subsidizing the downtown merchants.

There is a mall down the street from downtown Naperville. If you charge money to park downtown to visit the sames stores you can visit for free at the mall, tell me who's going to come downtown and pay to park. Not to mention the exact same stores and restaurants are also in places like Oakbrook, Woodridge, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook (which has that new promenade) that all offer free parking.

Naperville has something special that makes people want to come here and visit and spend money, why ruin a good thing?

BTW, why should city employees pay to park at their job? I can tell you that no municipality charges their employees to park at their office, that's just assanine. You tell me where an employee has to pay to park their car (in the suburbs, NOT downtown Chicago, we need to compare apples to apples).

Sam2

If the City has taken over part of the payment for the special service areas then I disagree with that action. It is against the philosphy for which those districts were formed. Those who benefit from/use the decks should pay for them. As to the tax dollar figures in which you are interested, that is what FOIA requests were made for. The city could come up with the figures if they wanted or if they had to because they received a FOIA request. The reports for IDOR are specific enough to give the info.

sam2,

You make a good point about how much sales tax revenue is collected downtown.

We would have to look at how much the land is going to cost, demolition cost for any existing structures, the cost of building the deck, and bond financing costs. On top of that we will need to add in the annual cost of operation and maintenance. That will give us the total true cost of the parking deck.

I imagine some people are already sharpening their pencils and pulling out their calculators, but the last time I saw some numbers quoted it was 25 - 30K per parking spot to build a deck. With inflation, who knows it may even be more now.

It would be very interesting indeed to see how much new additional total gross sales dollars would need to be generated within just the downtown district to actually pay off the cost of these new parking decks based upon the amount of special services taxes being collected.

Eric, you are mistaken about funding for the parking decks. Yes, some portion comes from special services taxes, but a large portion comes from general revenues. The Van Buren deck in particular comes to mind. When pushed by the merchants, they offered to pay for I believe 70% of the cost. Then, once approved, decided that the entire city benefited from a healthy downtown and therefore the taxpayers should pick up a larger portion of the costs. The council, of course, agreed. Then, the very next year, the council waived the amount due from the merchants because of the city's financial condition and the taxpayers paid their share and the merchants share that year. It was reported in the Sun at the time.

It is preposterous to take my tax money to build a parking facility for a downtown merchant. No one subsidizes the cost of parking anywhere else in the city. Why is downtown special?

Finally, I'll ask again --- how much sales tax revenue is collected in the downtown area? How much more will be collected after the decks are built? I've asked on this blog and I've asked council and no one knows or no one will share. I expect the silence is because the answer will not support the expenditure of millions of tax dollars on garages.

A question for commuters that use the 5th ave station.

Did you read the editorial on 7-22 regarding this issue?

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/opinions/1067157,6_4_NA22_EDITORIAL_S1.article

Some excerpts;

Councilman Bob Fieseler is undoubtedly right when he says there is never going to be enough parking at the train station just north of downtown Naperville to allow all those who use it to rely on their own cars

Given the fact that there are currently 1,374 parking spaces at that station - with 4,112 commuters boarding daily and a nine-year wait for a space - solutions need to be considered other than just adding more parking spaces.

Fieseler thinks the best solution is a three-tiered system that includes bus transit to the train stations, and both close-in lots and remote lots with bus transit to and from those lots.

Decks are expensive. Are you willing to pay the extra amount to pay for them? Because we all know who's going to pay for it. Someone mentioned there is grant money for decks, I was told by a councilman a year ago there was none, has that changed?

What if there was better remote lot and bus transit at a lower cost, and a guaranteed ride to your car in the evening? What then?

The general consensus on this blog and all the lte's in the last few years is build as many spaces as possible and we will come. But it doesn't seem that there is a real desire by the city to offer anything close to 4,000 spaces up here.

So what's the appetite for any alternatives?

Now play nice, but what say you who actually use the station, and especially those of you who are being dropped off now. You are the real question mark.

I don't commute by train to work. I work and live in Naperville and have started riding my bike to work 3 times per week.

With that said, I do have a view on this subject as I live on the near west side of downtown Naperville. My house is a beautiful 100 year old cottage amongst giants. That is for a different blog.

When I drive or ride by the commuter permit parking lots in downtown Naperville, the lots are not full. Why not make all lots first come, first serve at a daily rate. Why should some be entitled? Or have a parking permit lottery every year, so everyone has the same chance.

Actually my issue is commuters that park in the neighborhoods that surround the downtown train station all day from 7:00am to 6:00pm. That is crazy!!! The side streets in downtown Naperville are narrow and many w/o sidewalks. Cars parked all day are a danger not to mention a missed revenue opportunity for the city.

With these extra cars narrowing the width of the streets and the crazy drivers cutting thru the side streets to avoid Washington and Mill, a disaster will happen. I think the crosswalk sign on Mill has been hit a least 5 times.

A comprehensive solution is needed for downtown commuter parking.

Anonymous

First, it would appear the we both agree that the downtown business parking lots and decks are not funded by the residents' property taxes but by a special use tax levied on the downtown businesses. And, I agree with you that some portion of that tax is paid by Naperville residents who patronize the downtown businesses through their purchases at those businesses. None of the money from the special use tax goes into the general fund for the city as that would be illegal. If the district is working correctly, none of the general fund should be going toward the lots, but I don't know that for a fact.

The important point is that those who use the lots are paying for the lots--whether or not they are residents. Those who do not use the lots do not (or at least should not) have to pay for the lots. The same philosophy should hold true for the commuter lots. Those who use the lots should pay for them. Those you don't use the lots should not. If the city builds decks and does not pass the cost of the bonds onto the users, then the difference will have to come from some other source. If the city is unable to cover that difference by grants, the money will have to come from some other tax source--property, sales, etc.

I am willing to pay squat, zilch and nada. We don't need any decks and it would seem that there are going to be fewer cars in the short range future. Take your bike, walk, jog and if it's raining--take the bus. Forget all these grandiose public projects with their devestating price tags (at least until such time, if any, that the economy improves).

Why not build a commuter lot along 75th Street rather than more retail/residential? You might also try Friday/Saturday night buses to downtown to alleviate parking and traffic congestion. Divert the "cultural tax" to pay for this -- trying to ease the traffic/parking situation seems a tad more important than art projects.

Hi.. Are any of the Naperville City employees reading the posts in this forum?. They seem to be blissfully unaware of the problems faced by us resident-commuters.

Can the Sun Times please bring this to their attention?
Thanks

Eric,

Let's be realistic about the business inequities in this town. If you start up a business in the downtown district you are not obligated to provide any off street parking. If you start up a business anywhere else in Naperville other than downtown the city dictates to you how many parking spots you must provide which directly translates into how much land you must buy and the cost of improving the land. Storm water run off is another aspect that downtown merchants do not have to provide for either and there are other inequities. So a business downtown competing against a similar business anywhere else in town do not have the same overhead cost.

Yes, the downtown district has a special service tax. Let's be realistic and understand that this is a pass thru tax that is ultimately paid by the customers of these establishments through higher prices. If a study of the taxes collected per establishment in comparison to the up front property costs paid out by competitors across town will clearly show that the tax does not even come close to providing equity in business operating costs. In so doing the city council has deliberately given preferential treatment to the downtown merchants and created a less than level playing field for competing merchants in this city.

The merchants and the chamber of commerce all want to attract customers to the downtown district yet neither of these groups are willing to dip into their own profits and pay even close to what their competitors have to pay across town.

The statement that residents are not paying for the downtown lots and decks with their property taxes is not entirely true. Naperville residents do pay property taxes. The City of Naperville collects taxes from a variety of sources which all fund the general fund. Naperville residents are also customers downtown so they are also paying a portion of the special use tax along with their sales tax and property tax. As with most taxes these days, hard numbers to prove who is paying what percentage of the total amount collected gets a little hard to determine. But the truth is that visitors to Naperville pay a portion and residents of Naperville pay a portion. As with any other consumption tax the more Naperville residents patronize downtown merchants the more they will fund the special use tax.

I thought that the downtown parking owned by the city was financed by a special service tax paid by the downtown merchants. The idea was that the city would allow the businesses to develop without providing theirown off street parking if the businesses would pay a special tax to build and maintain public off street parking.

If this is the case, residents are not paying for the downtown lots and decks with their property taxes.

How is it that Lisle has a police officer stationed at their train station every day during the evening rush hour?

Then we look at Naperville train station, especially Rt 59 where there is a police sub-station right in front of the train station and NEVER a policeman to be found. Everyone in Naperville ought to come out some afternoon and watch the chaos... drivers driving the wrong way down one-way lanes... drivers running stop signs... drivers making double right hand turns into the main exit road... drivers racing down the aisles at 30-40 mph trying to get into the lane before the backup builds. Don't even ask what the bicycles and scooter drivers are doing... for their families sake I hope their life insurance is paid up.

While all of the drivers are hell bent on playing demolition derby with each other then there are the pedestrians who are even more brazen than a flock of canadian geese crossing the road at North Aurora whether they have a green light, walk arrow, or nothing at all. Just off they go whenever they please. Could someone explain why there is a cross-walk on both sides of Fairway at North Aurora? The predominant flow out of this parking lot is making right turns onto North Aurora. It would be far safer for the city to provide only one crosswalk on the west side of Fairway so pedestrians are not interfering with right turning traffic. Even small improvements like this will make the lot safer and get commuters home quicker.

More than 90% of the permit users arrive to park in commuter lots with only one person in the vehicle.

To cut down on some of the need for parking permits the city should have implemented a process years ago to provide specific parking lots and permits for car and van pools which is in the spirit of getting more vehicle off the road, cutting down on emissions, decreasing the number of parking spots needed, and shortening the wait time for a permit.

If the city won't do it maybe the Naperville Sun can put something together thru its web site as a community service to help hook up commuters who live in the same neighborhoods.

With effective car pooling there would be no need for the money being wasted on the silly remote parking lots which commuters loath because they add another 20-30 minutes to the commute each way.

Cities in both the east and west coast have used effective methods to hook-up riders and drivers for decades. And not just to ride rapid transit but to also get more vehicles off local roads and expressways.

Compared to what other cities are doing, and doing effectively, the City of Naperville isn't even trying. Heck they aren't even in the game yet. Either the people responsible for transportation need to get serious with fixing these problems or we need to find some new employees who will. We can start with the department head of TED who has been in place far long enough that most of these problems should have been solved by now under her watch; yet there isn't even anything in the solution pipeline. For het to say that the city is going to begin to "study" the problem when apparently everyone in town but her already knows there is a problem and has known there is a problem for decades speaks extremely poorly of her ability to effectively manage the scope of her professional responsibilities.

If there aren't some solid commuter parking proposals being acted upon before the next municipal election most, if not all, of the city council incumbents can pretty much plan on finding some other form of community service in which to become involved. The commuters in this town are begging for someone on the city council to step up to the plate and demonstrate some leadership on issues that effect the quality of life for every commuting resident in this city.

Every city employee should be paying whatever the city council determines is the going rate to park in the commuter lots for the same privilege of parking in a space provided by Naperville taxpayers.

I can't think of a single good reason why city employees should have free parking.

The rising price of gas will only increase the use of Metra. Which in turn will create the supply/demand need for parking. Municipalities cannot afford any additional public parking. It will go to the highest bidder.

I still drive too cumberland ave and take the train in. And finding a seat these days is getting harder.

This town NEEDS commuter parking. It does NOT NEED another performing arts building. (and just where are these theater attendees going to park????)The old facility building should become a 2-3 story parking garage for commuters. The existing parking lot across the the street should also be made into a 2-story parking garage. So should the parking lot on the west side of 5th ave. station . Right now these parking lots are a waist of air space.

How much am I willing to pay for commuter parking?

The same amount I pay when I go to downtown Naperville and park on the street or use the downtown parking garage.

$0.00

I love it when I call the city and ask for their progress in providing more commuter parking and they tell me to ride my bike.

That's a real good solution especially in February when it's 20 below wind chill.

Still never had any council member take me up on my dare to ride to the commuter lot in February.

Maybe if the city employees had to deal with parking like the commuters do, things might change.

There are so many unspoken issues that coincide with the parking mess that our so called leaders have created. the Pace bus system is a joke, and most of the routes are the same from 10 years ago, yet due to over development, these old routes totally ignore a lot of now densely populated areas. EVERY square inch of available land is being built on.. adding cars and commuters to the already WAY over used roadways and parking areas. I've heard so many mentions to "studies" being done over the past few years... it doesn't take a bucket of money and 5 years to figure out that the city is a mess... but have they even begun to actually DO anything about it? I haven't seen any improvements! I am one of the lucky ones on the waiting list for parking. I'll be long gone before i even get close to the top.. but that's fine with me. In another 4-6 years, naperville will be just another urban ghetto, cramped, crowded and people just sick and tired of paying lots of tax dollars for NOTHING! Just look at the empty commercial spaces downtown. that will continue to happen as more and more people stop going into downtown because there's no transportation and no place to park. It's very short sided to say that this is just a commuter issue. There are so many others that need to be addressed, but again... who's addressing it, and what's getting done about it !!!!

I agree...comuters should pay what city employees pay to park in the municipal lot. Further, it is ridiculous that this problem has not been solved years ago. Naperville could easily float a municipal bond issuance to finance the cost of parking decks that would pay for themselves over time with reasonable fees. I guess flower beds in the roadways are more important than really having an impact on comuters (taxpayers) day to day lives. But off course this isn't a priority....the people making the decisions aren't comuters....they have free parking spots in the municipal lots. In this "green" time when we all should be worrying about conservation and the environment...shouldn't government be taking every possible step to make it easier for people to take public transportation?

By the way, Park and Ride serving the Route 59 station is never going to be a big hit. We need to be honest about that...even though it may not be the "green" thing to say. The previous poster was correct when they pointed out that it can take 20 minutes+ to get out of the parking lot in the afternoon when the rush hour trains arrive. If the PACE bus willing to be at the back of the pack as it waits to pick up stragglers getting off the train, then it will ALWAYS take forever to get out of the lot...then you sit on a slow moving vehicle which then deposits you somewhere other than at your home. Blech.

There is a reason you see grown men in business suits sprinting through that parking lot at 6:30pm on a Tuesday. They want to get to their cars and get the heck out of there before that parking lot turns into, uh, a parking lot. It stinks if you're stuck in the jam. Add another 20 minutes onto what is probably already a 75 minute trek home from work. What a waste of time.

Dupage Children's Museum: Has funding crisis. Needs money.
Dupage Children's Museum: Has large surface lot.

Solution: Build parking deck in Dupage Children's Museum lot. Owned by trust which benefits Museum, operated by intelligent parking operator.

Charge a fair rate but not "what the market will absorb". As consumers we are already getting bilked at every turn for "what the market will absorb". I am sick of "what the market will absorb". I have no problem with "profitable", though. To me that sounds like $5 per day, at the most. That way the thing pays for itself, helps a good cause, but isn't there to extract maximum money from the private individuals who may commute into Chicago but who have chosen to live in a good community and probably are already paying $10,000+ per year in property tax anyway.

People, this isn't rocket science.

How is it that Wheaton has had a parking deck for many years and the Naperville city council has been incapable of finding a way to build a deck for downtown commuters in all these years? The answer is because they have not made it a priority and they have not made any commitments to resolving these long standing problems. The city council simply does not care as much about commuters as they do the downtown merchants.

I found it ironic to read in the Naperville Sun a quote by one of our council members who said Metra will not pay for commuter parking and the next paragraph contained a quote from Metra saying Naperville hasn't asked for any money. Who is on first and who is on second here?

The length of wait for a downtown parking permit is nothing new. While I've been on the list I have watched my daughter start and finish elementary school and middle school. Now that she is entering high school I know I'm finally getting nearer to the top of the list. And while I've been on the list the time has grown longer not shorter so it isn't like the city is making any progress or doing anything meaningful to meet demand.

We need some immediate stop gap measures until something more permanent can be put into place. For starters the parking lots need to be reconfigured to angle parking. Angle parking requires less aisle width and provides for higher density of parking in the same amount of space. Forget the sacred lambs based on who parks where right now and change the whole existing downtown structure... convert one lot for car pool permits... meaning there must be three or more people in the vehicle to use the parking lot. Convert the other parking lots by configuring the parking space on vehicle size... small, medium, and full size spaces. Smaller vehicles require less room and more small vehicles spaces can be provided than using a one-size-fits all parking space methodology.

None of this is rocket science. All of this and more has been used in many other cities, many other states and if the City of Naperville was really trying to fix and improve our parking situation they would have implemented many of the ideas that have already been proven to work long before now.

It is actually insulting to read that the city of Naperville is going to "study" the downtown parking. Hey, here is a clue. We don't need to waste any money on a study and we don't need to waste two or three years dragging it thru some wrenching bureaucratic process. We have a problem. We all know it. We need solutions. If city staff is incapable of telling city council what is needed then fire the entire department and go get some bids from some parking consultants. Within 4 to 6 months a competent consultant will have several hard proposals to choose from. Let's get moving on this. We commuters have waited long enough.

Let's see... our city council members think it is ok for some jerk from Downers Grove or somewhere to come to downtown Naperville to shop. Maybe they drop into a clothing store or some other shop and spend $50 to $100 and fork over $3.50 to $7.00 in sales tax. In their wonderful wisdom our city fathers think it is ok for this jerk from Downers Grove to get free parking and a resident like me who is paying almost $12,000 per year in real estate taxes... well I should have to pay for my parking.

How about an end to double or triple standard with parking? Either all of the parking is free or all of the parking costs. Right now it is all mixes up, all screwed up, doesn't make sense, and sure isn't fair. Not even close.

Step one... sell the existing parking decks to private companies and let them charge whatever the market will bear. Step two... sell the commuter parking lots to private companies and let them build the parking decks we need and charge whatever the market will bear. Step three... convert all the free on street parking to parking meters. We can use the overtime ticket revenue along with the meter revenue. Fact is cars sit all day in sports marked for 2 and 4 hours with hardly any parking enforcement. Streets over by North Central and adjacent are even worse, especially when school is in session. There is a need for on street parking and there is sufficient demand. To give it away just doesn't make sense and certainly isn't fair to commuters.

Since the City of Naperville has demonstrated for decades that they can not effectively manage, operate, or maintain the existing commuter parking infrastructure yet alone expand it meet the need and demand the only viable solution is for thecity to admit their gross failure and get out of the parking business and let it be managed and run by professionals who know what they are doing.

How much should commuters be willing to pay for parking? I think commuters should pay exactly the same rate that Naperville city employees pay to park in the municipal building parking deck.

I'm wondering how many spots Naperville will slip in Money Magazine's next "Best Places to Live" issue once a few folks write some nice, long letters about the city's inability to provide parking for its commuters.

Because this is a quality of life issue.

Money mentions our "proximity to Chicago is a plus," but does it know that commuters are facing decades-long waiting lists to obtain long-term Metra parking passes?

Parking at the downtown station is pretty much off limits to most Naperville taxpayers because of the mismanagement of the situation. The Route 59 station is the best bet right now, and for most commuters it takes as long to commute to the 59 Station parking lot as it does to ride the train from the station to Chicago. I've commuted from suburbs into other major cities and, a) I'm paying more for my Naperville-Chicago commute than from any other town I've lived in, and, b) I never had a problem with commuter parking anywhere else.

The city clearly does not have ability to figure this out. It won't take basic steps to manage daily operations at the lot by eliminating access of passes to those who have been "hoarding" them for years and limiting the number non-resident passes so that more city taxpayers could use the prime lots.

Scrap the plans for a half-baked Fifth Avenue Station study and outsource the management of commuter parking to a private entity, one that is willing clean up the mess and provide long-term solutions.

I think the first priority for the Fifth Avenue Station area is a commuter parking deck. I also whole-heartedly back increased bus service to the train stations (both downtown and 59). There need to be some improvements to both stations to accommodate increased bus traffic however. I also support increased park & ride locations. I personally have parked at both the 59 and downtown stations on a daily parking basis. Over the summer I park downtown because I drop my daughter off at camp at the Kroehler Y. On Mon & Tues I can't get a spot (and I arrive at 7:05 a.m. -- camp opens at 7:00). Generally, Wed-Fri there are a few spots available and I'm good. On the days I can't get a spot I generally have to drive across Ogden and find a place to park on a residential street and either walk to the train or catch the Pace bus. This works for me -- I'm really not too inconvenienced.

Taking the Pace bus directly from either the Naperville station or the Route 59 station, however, is another story. Particularly Route 59, it sometimes takes 20+ minutes to just get out of the station lot. There needs to be a bus only express lane at Route 59 -- that would encourage people to take the bus. Downtown isn't as bad, but keep the cars out of the bus lanes. I NEVER see one of Naperville's finest near the train station at 5:32 when the express train pulls in. Wouldn't it be nice to have the PD there to get individual cars out of the bus lanes?

As to cost, the City is already graciously increasing the monthly parking permit price to pay for improvements at the train stations. Daily parkers are now already paying more than those with monthly permits. I can see increasing the daily fee to $3 and probably no one would be too over-burdened. But then monthly parking needs to be increased again as well.

The City doesn't need to provide a parking space for every one that wants one at the train station, but having a 10 year waiting list keeps people who commute into Chicago from moving to Naperville (unless they live near and their work schedule meshes with the Pace schedule). I tried to sublet a house I was renting a little over a year ago and had more than one prospective tenant say they didn't want to when they found out about the train parking situation.

Most definitely, City councilmembers, this is something that needs to be addressed. The entire City of Naperville benefits from the train stations. Good access to public transportation is a huge draw for our area and if we can't find a way for people to get to the train, they'll just go somewhere else, like Wheaton, where they can easily get a parking place (or bus transportation).

Parking lots and parking decks need to operate on a for profit basis, just as the city supposedly operatres its electric, water and wastewater business.

When profit is not generated, shortages will develop. A glaring example of shortages, is commuter parking. Commuter parking is an example of government failure to operate a business.

Commuters need to choose a place to live that is affordable to their needs. Otherwise the convience of parking at a trian station should be about $120 per month and the real cost of ridng the train to downtown Chicago from Naperville should be a minimum of $180-$200 per month.

Subsidies can only create shortages and only raise the cost of service to non users.

Host Ted,

What caught my eye is the statement that "User fees would have to cover the costs, city officials say."

What puzzles me is why user fees have to pay for the parking deck at the train station while the residential taxpayer has to pay for the parking decks in downtown including $19.9 million for the library deck which is scheduled to be built.

Basically the City of Naperville is willing to subsidize the downtown landlords who are long term establishment folks. But they are not willing to subsidize the residents who work downtown who are mostly transient executives who are usually here 3-7 years before they get their next promotion or transfer to elsewhere. We just take their tax money year after year and give it to the downtown landlords in the form of free parking.

As far as what would I be willing to pay so I can ride the metra downtown, I would be happy to pay 5 bucks. Driving downtown for meetings or to see lawyers usually cost me $24 dollars in gas and $32 dollar to park. That is $56 dollars plus wear and tear on my vehicle. Paying 5 dollars seems cheap to a person who only goes downtown a few times a month. Maybe some parking spots should be designated to the part timers.

People did complain when parking at the train station went up from $1 to $2. It is natural to complain but the price is still a bargain. People complained when a pack of cigs they don't need and is harmful to their health went up from $1 to $2. But it is now $6 and they pay the price daily and sometimes twice daily without blinking!

I suspect if there was a parking deck with a 5 dollar daily price, it would be filled to capacity. Not just from those thousands on the waiting list, but from a few thousand who would decide it is now cheaper and more convenient to take the train since parking is finally available. One most not forget that the E-W Tollway and Eisenhower are still backed up with traffic going downtown. Just like 11,000 Napervillians use the metra daily, I suspect another 11,000 Napervillians drive downtown daily.

While I am only willing to pay 5 bucks a day, I bet those McMansion Folks who pay 20-80k in real estate taxes would be willing to pay 20 dollars a day as long as we gave them first floor parking and labelled it VIP for McMansion owners. In Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood, they give those McMansion Folks a small blue tent with a fan by the pool and they pay 350 dollars for the right to use that tent for a few hours while swimming. One of those tents was rented by a Napervillian who I assume was a McMansion type. Now are you going to tell me this guy would not be willing to pay $50 bucks to park his Mercedes or BMW on this first floor with his name written on it?

Just like stadiums are subsidized by the McMansion Folks who are willing to buy suites for 200k a year, the parking decks can be subsidized by folks who will pay $50 bucks a day. Maybe we can even gate a few parking spots and charge $350 bucks a day for those wanting a gated spot. Maybe we can even build a few garages inside the deck and charge $500 dollar a day for a private garage with an automatic door in the deck to park your Mercedes or BMW. These guys would pay this kind of money if the garage said this is "Mr. Joe Smith's" garage.

Let us face it we live in a society where there are frugal people such as myself and Host Ted who watch our dollars. But there are others who want to spend their money in a showey manner. Let them show it off. I saw people in Las Vegas buying 6oz filet mignon steaks for $194 dollars because they were wet aged for 3 weeks and dry aged for 15 days. The steak house said they tasted better and the place was full to capacity.

Now who is going to tell me we won't find 100 McMansion Folks who will pay $100 dollars a day for the right to park on the first floor with a gold plated tag broadcasting their names. That is $10,000 dollars a day from these 100 folks. That is $3,650,000 a year from these folks. We may even be able to keep the fee down to 2 or 3 dollars for the rest of us regular folk like Host Ted and Me.

Let us be innovative! They are tearing functional stadiums around the country so they can accomodate these McMansion folks who will subsidize the rest of us. They are even tearing Yankee Stadium down and building a smaller one so they can squeeze the McMansion Folks for VIP seating and the price that comes along. The regular folks seats will remain about the same cost despite the fact that there will be about 10,000 less.

Let us build a garage at the train station. We already have user fees and riders have been willing to pay. We don't even need that 3rd and final Library Deck near downtown. That would give us $19.9 million to get rolling until we get the money from the McMansion Subsidizers. In the meantime the landlords in downtown should be charged an extra real estate special tax assessment for those garages downtown. It is ludicrous to allow them to charge 50 bucks a square foot in rent and not pay a special tax for those soon to be 5 parking garages that do not have USER FEES.

The City of Naperville is underestimating the intelligence of Napervillians with the games it is playing. I suspect unless the council members step up to the plate and make some serious changes, everyone in this town will be a Napergatian by the time the next election rolls around. Too much under cover and underhanded activity has taken place in this town for way too long. Residents are fed up! Changes in business as usual tactics are long overdue!

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This page contains a single entry by Naperville Sun editors published on July 20, 2008 8:00 AM.

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