After village trustees received multiple complaints from several business owners in downtown Oak Park, the village is considering shorter time limits on parking spaces to discourage parked cars from becoming idle for extended periods of time.
Following the closing of the parking lots on the southeast corner of Lake and Harlem, Oak Park business owners have been saying that their customer base has seen a noticeable drop, claiming that liberal time limits on parking spaces have led to a smaller amount of people spending time in downtown Oak Park.
According to village officials, the parking lots were closed to make way for a new 20-story Oak Park Station development, which will contain a 400-space parking garage. But in the meantime, Oak Park business owners aren’t too happy about the problem and many have signed a petition calling for the time limits on parking.
According to the Tribune, mental health counselor Charles Hughes, who has an office on North Blvd., was one business owner who signed a petition calling for time limits on parking.
“One reason I chose that location was for parking there in lot 10,” Hughes said. “I noticed the problem right after they closed the lots on Lake. My clients were coming in 10-15 minutes late because they couldn’t find parking. (The time limits) would allow parking to turn over quickly.”
Michelle Vanderlaan of Sugarcup Trading at 110 N. Marion St. said the remaining lots appear to be used by commuters, residents or store employees who seek longer-term parking.
“The lot is full before any of the stores or doctor’s offices even open,” Vanderlaan told the Tribune. “The spaces are not available for our customers.”
To alleviate the parking problem, the village proposed putting a three-hour parking limit on two surface parking lots along the east side of Marion St. between Lake and North Blvd. A third surface lot, just west of Marion in front of the Holley Court parking garage, would also have a three-hour parking limit. Trustees also called for a parking and traffic study of downtown Oak Park to further evaluate the congested parking problem.
The village has also pledged to add between four and 10 red top parking meters, which would allow short-term parking starting at 15 minutes. Village Trustee Glenn Brewer also suggested increasing the amount of time one can park for free.
“Maybe we consider the first hour-and-a-half being free in the parking garage instead of just the first hour,” Brewer told the Tribune. “That way, you get more people, if they have a little bit more time, to actually use the garage. Something on that proactive level would help resolve bigger issues for us.”
Ordinances to formally approve the parking lot restrictions and new parking meter times could be back for final village board approval in early May.
Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune