Would extra parking be worth extra traffic near Naperville train station?

  • Whether to add up to 400 commuter parking spaces near the 5th Avenue area and the Naperville Metra station is something the city council is weighing against the potential added traffic.

    Whether to add up to 400 commuter parking spaces near the 5th Avenue area and the Naperville Metra station is something the city council is weighing against the potential added traffic. Daily Herald file photo, October 2017

 
 
Updated 11/21/2018 8:39 PM

If adding more commuter parking to the 5th Avenue area near the Naperville Metra station increases traffic, city leaders aren't sure they're for it.

Council members heard Tuesday from one resident concerned with a staff recommendation to add between 250 and 400 commuter parking spots as part of a 13-acre redevelopment in the works for eight city-owned sites near the train station. Some on the council said they agreed with 5th Avenue steering committee member Jim Hill's points.

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Hill said adding hundreds more commuter parking stalls could decrease property tax revenue by taking away land that otherwise could be used for commercial, retail or residential purposes. He said making parking more plentiful could hurt the viability of the Pace bus service and could ignore potential trends away from personal car ownership.

And if spaces are added in garages, he said they might not be used as much as predicted, because garages take longer to enter and exit.

His point about property tax revenue reduction didn't resonate with city council member Rebecca Boyd-Obarski, who said providing commuter parking is an important enough municipal function to set aside tax concerns. But she and others agreed it's hard to add up to 400 spaces if that would make travel more difficult for nearby residents.

"We have issues with congestion over there," said council member Kevin Coyne, who recently began commuting to work daily using the Naperville Metra station, "and if we're going to add 400 new cars, I don't think that is necessarily going to be well-received by the residents who are already concerned with 5th Avenue plans."

An increase of between 250 and 400 spaces "would really provide a measurable impact in terms of a reduction to the wait-list time," for commuters hoping for a quarterly parking permit at the station, said Jennifer Louden, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Adding the spaces, a staff analysis found, could reduce time on the waiting list to as little as a year and seven months or as much as six years and two months. The list now is seven years long for a space in the Burlington/Parkview lot or 14 years for a spot in the Kroehler lot.

"It may be great for commuters," council member Judith Brodhead said about a potential parking increase, "but I'm not sure it's great for the other stakeholders in this, including the neighborhood."

Building the spaces in garages or decks also would add to the unspecified price of the 5th Avenue project, costing an estimated $6.25 million to $12 million, Mayor Steve Chirico said.

Before committing to more parking, Coyne said the city needs to get a better handle on how much each quarterly permit should cost. He said the cost of $110 to $135 depending on residency is "not enough to deter people from buying a permit and not using it," which leads to the seemingly endless waiting list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

He and Brodhead said the price isn't right because buying a permit to park costs less than riding Pace, and the city's pricing should give people an incentive to use public transit.

"People hang on to these spaces as though they're Bears season tickets," Brodhead said. "It's a parking space. But obviously it's so desirable that they pay these quarterly fees even if they're not using it much."

The council made no decisions about parking as part of the 5th Avenue development Tuesday. Council members are awaiting information, expected Dec. 18, about the future of the DuPage Children's Museum, which could help inform overall choices about what should be included in the project.

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