By Angelo Parlove, email@example.com
Based on their own parking study, Saline Main Street recommended several downtown parking changes to the City of Saline during a council work meeting in late August.
Aimed at meeting parking challenges due to current and expected growth in the downtown area, Saline Main Street suggested short-term solutions such as reducing all parking lot hours from four-hour parking to two-hour except for “All Day” parking as well as expanding on-street parking.
Long-term options included constructing a parking structure.
Based on those recommendations, the city analyzed some of the short-terms solutions, including the cost of enforcing a change to two-hour parking in downtown lots. Currently, with the four-hour parking, which runs Monday through Saturday, 8 am to 6 pm, on-duty police officers enforce parking, which is done while completing other duties.
To enforce two-hour parking, the city would need to hire parking enforcement officers, City Manager Todd Campbell said. “With two hour we know we wouldn’t be able to do that consistently at all,” he added. “We would recommend having a designated parking enforcement officer or officers.”
Police Chief Larry Hrinik completed an analysis of the cost to add parking enforcement officers to the staff. To maintain the same 60 hours of enforcement, one full-time and one part-time officer would need to be hired, which would cost the city just over $72,000 per year.
Alternately, the city could hire three part-time officers, with each averaging 20 hours per week, which would cost about $50,000 per year. Further, additional uniform costs for three officers is expected to be $1,100 per year.
At this point, it appears the city is unable to fund that cost to enforce two-hour parking downtown.
“Based on the numbers the city manager provided via Chief Hrinik, I am not aware of how we would be able to afford additional enforcement. We would have to cut back somewhere else,” Mayor Brian Marl said. “While our budget is balanced, and we have a history of being excellent stewards of public resources, things are still pretty lean around here. I think it’s important to remain cognizant of that.”
Marl also said he had concerns over two-hour parking based on conversations with community members and business owners.
The city also considered the option of additional on-street parking and targeted possible parking on both sides of North and South Lewis Streets as well as West McKay. City council is expected to revisit the downtown parking issue at a meeting in the near future.