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Downtown resident's parking idea stalls

Mayor appreciates suggestion, but it's not an option

As a resident living in an apartment in the downtown district of Morris, Samantha Bloome is often frustrated with trying to find a parking spot, especially during summer events.

She decided to contact the city to see whether she could help find a solution and presented an idea Tuesday to the Street and Alley Committee.

Bloome said Wednesday she proposed to the committee a permit system where each apartment unit in town would pay for one parking permit per unit and then be assigned a spot. Those who park in the spot without a permit could be ticketed, generating revenue for the city for the permits and the tickets.

“I thought this was the best way to present it to them,” she said. “I expected a counterproposal.”

Mayor Richard Kopczick said Wednesday the committee appreciated her idea and the discussion, but a permit system was not an option for the city.

“It was a sound idea, but not as global as we needed it to be,” he said.

Designated parking spots in town for residents in the downtown would be creating private parking spots on public property and, therefore, not an option.

In addition, Kopczick said local retailers often request to reserve parking spots for their individual businesses and are denied as well. He said it would not be fair to accommodate the residents if they cannot accommodate the businesses.

The mayor said the committee did tell Bloome that parking downtown is a priority for the city and always has been. It has spent more than a $1 million in parking projects downtown. And the city still plans to construct a parking lot off of Wauponsee Street and Illinois Avenue.

In 2011, the city purchased the property across the street from the former FireHouse Restaurant from Wayne McFarland and his Heritage Group Properties company. The two lots contained the former Sam’s Pizza building, which has since been demolished. There is a small house next to this property that the city is still working to purchase.

“If nothing else, we will build around the house,” Kopczick said.

Bloome said the committee mentioned looking at designating parking during special events for those who live in apartments downtown.

“People going to Corn Fest know they have to walk a long way, but we have no choice but to come home,” she said.

Kopczick said the committee will explore the idea of a designated area for resident parking during special events, as well as other parking solutions.

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