Plan for more parking in downtown Libertyville moves to design stage
Libertyville officials have taken a definitive step in a long-standing goal to add more parking downtown, with the focus on construction of a parking deck on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue.
Elgin-based Walker Parking Consultants has been hired for design, preliminary engineering and other services for a parking deck proposed on the site of the village's Civic Center surface lot. The area is behind buildings south of Church Street in a general area bounded by Brainerd, Maple and Milwaukee avenues.
"Adding additional parking toward the southern downtown area is a priority," Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said.
The exact footprint and orientation of the deck would be studied as part of the initial work. As envisioned, the deck could have one level of below-grade parking and would contain between 200 and 300 parking spots.
"They'll start working on some conceptual drawings," Bowens said. "We're trying to come up with a couple of options to determine which is best."
Walker has worked on several parking projects for the village, including the existing 360-space parking deck two blocks south of the Civic Center at Lake Street and Brainerd that opened in September 2009. Village officials also envisioned a parking structure on the east side of Milwaukee to serve the downtown but have been stymied.
"We weren't able to purchase a large enough piece of property or properties" to do that, Bowens said.
The alternative has been another deck on the west side. While there have been other parking improvements in the interim, building a second deck has remained a priority and the reason the duration of a special financing district to fund the work was extended.
Mayor Terry Weppler said the decision was made to move ahead before all the money is available because there is an immediate need and construction and bonding costs are low.
Some downtown visitors, like Mike Grealis of Antioch, say more parking is needed. Grealis, who specializes in metal doors and frames and worked on the new Mickey Finn's restaurant, was in Libertyville Friday for lunch and to visit a friend.
"You can't park on the road anywhere. You have tenants that need parking, shoppers," he said.
Whitney Deslauriers, who has lived in Libertyville for 11 years, has a different view.
"I don't have a problem finding parking now that the (parking) garage is there," she said. "However, I think it would be nice to have more parking."
She said she planned to attend the village's tree lighting ceremony Friday night.
"That's probably when parking will be tight," she said.
A spurt of new and pending restaurants downtown in recent years has added to the parking demand and had village officials at one point considering a moratorium on those types of businesses.
Walker was hired at a cost not to exceed $157,500. Subcontractors include the Hezner Corp. of Libertyville for architectural design, Gewalt Hamilton Associations of Vernon Hills for engineering aspects, and 3-D Design Studio of Grayslake for landscape design.
The company expects the schematic design package to take two to four months to complete. If approved by the village, that would be followed by a proposal to develop construction plans and specifications. The process also includes meetings with business owners and residents and several public meetings. Bowens said if all went smoothly, a deck could be built and open by early 2016.