Attracting visitors to their town is a dream of many local officials -- but can there be a point of saturation?
With all of the restaurants, parking in downtown Libertyville at times has become challenging. And with more eating establishments on the horizon, Mayor Terry Weppler wonders if it would be too much to absorb.
Weppler said he will ask the village board to consider a moratorium on any increased seating in restaurants and liquor licenses -- other than those already approved -- in the downtown commercial area.
"In the last couple of months, I've had so many people say it's become so difficult to park in downtown Libertyville," he said. "It's a good problem, but we've got to solve it."
Officials estimate there have been a dozen or more restaurants opening in and around downtown within the past few years. At present, the popular Mickey Finn's Brewery is preparing to open in an expanded location at 345-347 Milwaukee Ave., and Timothy O'Toole's Pub this summer is expected to fill the vacated spot. Also, within the same area on Milwaukee Avenue, Pizzeria DeVille is under construction and the owner of the vacant former Arden's furniture store has applied for a building permit for a restaurant.
"At some point, people are going to say, `We're not going to downtown Libertyville anymore because it's too hard to park,'" Weppler said.
A 360-space parking deck opened at Lake Street and Brainerd Avenue on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue in 2009. Village officials have been looking for opportunities on the east side, but efforts have been complicated because of multiple ownership and other factors. The search continues.
Other parking issues are under consideration. For example, owners of downtown businesses can change uses and -- unless there is a significant addition -- do not have to provide more parking.
The board already has asked the planning commission to study that situation, as well as rules regarding outdoor or rooftop dining.