It's not going to be quite as expensive to park in downtown La Crosse as previously thought. Wednesday afternoon, downtown business owners spoke against the parking fees for the downtown ramps that were adopted last week and the parking utility board agreed on a new set of fees.
At a meeting on Feb. 17 the parking utilities board voted in favor of charging $1.50 per hour in parking ramps after the first two hours. Officials also wanted to limit the time cars can park along the streets in downtown from two hours to 90 minutes. There was another meeting Wednesday to reconsider that idea and some changes were made.
Terry Doering is the owner of John's bar in downtown La Crosse. He was worried about his staff who park in the ramps if parking prices went up as originally proposed.
"My part-time employees coming in for four to five shifts a week could not afford the $1,500 a year that that would generate off them," Doering said.
Doering and other business owners were also concerned about losing customers.
"Might make somebody else decide to go to another part of town or out of town completely to spend their money," Doering said.
"The fact that people have to pay here and not have to pay for parking at other businesses that may provide their own parking and provide free parking says that downtown La Crosse, I've gotta pay to go to Downtown La Crosse," Dan Wettstein, owner of Wettstein's said.
Wettstein is on the parking utilities board and felt last week's decision needed to be looked at again.
"In my opinion, a vote was hastily taken," Wettstein said.
Wednesday afternoon, Wettstein listened to other downtown business owners call for changes. The board ended up adopting a proposal from Mayor Tim Kabat.
The Parking Utilities Board has voted to:
A. On-Street Parking
1. Reinstate the 2-hour free limit M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2. Reinstate free parking on evenings and weekend days (except for 1 a.m. overnight parking)
B. Main Street, Market Square and La Crosse Center Ramps
1. Reinstate the three-hour grace period M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2. Establish a $0.75/hour charge thereafter M-F 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
3. Reinstate the free parking on weekday evenings after 6 p.m. until 1 a.m.
4. Between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. institute a $0.50/hour charge (overnight parking)
5. Reinstate the free parking on weekend days (except overnight parking)
6. Keep the $6 lost ticket charge
Mayor Kabat says the money will go into improving the ramps.
"One of the things that I've heard from a lot of folks is we want to make sure that those charges go into better maintenance, better lighting, cleaner, and I agree with that," Kabat said.
The money raised from parking ramp fees is about $35,000.
To get some of the revenue back the mayor gave the idea to increase parking ramp leases by a dollar a month. That decision will be voted on at the next meeting.