Village may shift parking deck rules

Proposed restrictions designed to open up spots commuters have been utilizing

When the Hinsdale’s parking deck opened in 2020, the pandemic was suppressing activity in the village’s central business district and leaving the new facility’s usage patterns in neutral.

Almost three years later, officials have found that the 189 village-controlled lower level spaces are typically filled during prime daytime hours. The investment has paid off, suggested Hinsdale Village President Tom Cauley at the April 18 village board meeting, with central business district merchants and employees parking in the deck to reserve on-street spaces for customers.

“The occupancy rate in the (deck) has steadily increased from April 2021 through March of this year,” Cauley said. “A recent audit of the lower deck indicated that we were 100 percent at capacity from the hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is the time when parking is at a premium in Hinsdale.”

Hinsdale Middle School has exclusive use of the 133 spots on the deck’s upper level when school is in session.

The one speed bump, however, has been Metra commuters taking up as many as 30-40 of the free spaces a day, officials report, instead of using the dedicated commuter permit areas, such as the lot along the tracks between Washington and Lincoln streets. Hinsdale Police Chief Brian King said that has resulted in employees parking on the street.

“Based on our citations, most of the people getting ticketed are employees that have no place to park,” King said.

In response, Cauley announced a plan to put a six-hour limit on deck parking, except for downtown workers who would be issued free purple permits for unlimited use. The permits could be used to park in the purple zone on Hinsdale Avenue west of Lincoln Street.

“This would enable merchants and their employees to park in the parking deck for as long as they wanted,” he said. “We don’t want to restrict people from having access to parking in the parking deck if they’re going to be downtown. But we also don’t want commuters to be there, and we thought six hours is the optimal time.”

The village already has taken steps to help fill the commuter lot, which has yet to return to its pre-COVID capacity. King indicated this measure will serve several objectives.

“By pushing the commuters out, we’ll open 30 to 40 spaces a day, which should actually alleviate parking right in the central business district,” King said.

Cauley said trustees knew some tweaks might be needed in managing the first municipal parking structure.

“We talked about this before (but) we didn’t know this would be necessary. I think now it’s necessary,” Cauley said.

At a meeting with merchants at Village Hall Wednesday morning, some business owners recommended creating additional free purple permit zones for employees, suggesting the parking lot behind the post office and the red permit spaces along Second Street between Washington and Grant.

“We would take a look at that, but I guess I’m reticent to make too many changes at once,” King said, adding that officials will continue to evaluate parking downtown.

Trustees are expected to discuss the parking deck proposal in May, with restrictions expected to be in place by June.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean