Village may kick meters to the curb

Staff recommends moving to three-hour free parking in the central business district

Come June 1, the need to feed parking meters in downtown Hinsdale could be a thing of the past.

Trustees and staff discussed a plan to allow three-hour zoned parking in the central business district at Tuesday's Hinsdale Village Board meeting. Village President Tom Cauley said officials have been talking about removing the 300 meters for some time.

"It's something we started considering before COVID but shelved during COVID. COVID had just started when we opened the new parking deck," he said.

Removing the meters and allowing three-hour free parking should bring more people downtown, Cauley said.

"We think that would be long enough for most people who want to use the central business district, either to shop, to go to a beauty parlor, to have lunch," he added.

Police would use license plate readers to monitor how long a vehicle has been parked in the zone. The three-hour limit would apply to the entire area, eliminating the practice of moving from one metered spot to another to avoid a ticket.

Tickets for parking at an expired meter are $8. Tickets for violating the three-hour limit would be $25.

"We haven't projected any additional revenue from raising the ticket price to $25," Cauley said. "We just don't really know how that's going to work."

Six-hour parking still would be available in the lots off Garfield Avenue (42 spaces) and Washington Street (49 spaces). The rate is $1 an hour in the Garfield lot and will be increased from 25 cents to $1 an hour in the Washington lot as well. There is no limit as to how long drivers can park in the parking deck, which has 189 spaces on the lower level, Cauley noted.

The meters have generated as much as $260,000 a year in 2019 and as little as $120,000 in 2020. A price increase from village vehicle stickers and the increase in the cost of parking in the Washington lot will help offset some of the lost revenue.

"I think there will be a marginal increase in sales tax and food and beverage tax because you have more people coming downtown," Cauley said.

New signs would notify drivers of the three-hour limit, and parking ambassadors would be out when the change is first enacted, Police Chief Brian King said.

"The real goal in this is to create turnover in space availability for retail customers," he said.

The number of spaces with a 15-minute time limit to accommodate people making deliveries or picking up carryout will increase, King added.

Trustees, who ultimately will have to vote to approve the change, expressed support for the plan.

"This is really the ultimate payoff of our investment we made in the parking deck," Trustee Neale Byrnes said. "It's a big payoff."

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean