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Parking fees starting to break the bank of store owners

Parking fees starting to break the bank of store owners

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Wednesday WKBT learned how much the city of La Crosse is making from the new parking-ramp fees.

It's been about two months since the fees and new time limits for parking were put in place in ramps and on the street.

Some business owners have said the cost is starting to add up and the small fees are starting to break their bank.

At Gallery La Crosse, things are still business as usual.

"As far as dollars and sales actually it has not impacted us, yet," store manager Ann Peterson said.

But customers are starting to talk.

"I do hear from people though that the perception that parking downtown is now expensive," Peterson said.

Peterson said the 75 cents an hour to park in a ramp isn't anything that should be keeping customers away though.

"Originally you could park two hours on the street for free and two hours in the ramps for free. Now you can park two hours on the streets for free and three hours in the ramps for free. You don't have to worry about parking tickets anymore," she said.

Across the street from Gallery La Crosse at Generous Earth Pottery, owner Karen Bressi hasn't noticed a lack of customers either. What she has noticed is a lot of her money is now going toward parking fees.

"I have four or five employees all day long and I pay for their parking so that can be $30 a day for the whole week and if I do that every day for the month that is about $500 a month," Bressi said.

"I can tell you I have not noticed any difference in our traffic count," Dan Wettstein, owner of Wettstein's and parking utility board member, said

Wettstein is still seeing the same amount of customers as before and said he has only received positive feedback on the parking changes, but for those businesses that don't feel the same, he says, speak up.

"Those who have seen a negative or felt a negative impact from the parking ramp and the pay stations should really make their voice be known at the parking utility board meetings. And they should not just come with generalized statements they should come with some hard facts," Wettstein said.

"The perception has been 'Oh there's charging for parking,' and the reality is there's minimal cost if you're longer than you expect but you don't have to worry about parking tickets anymore so you can come down and relax and enjoy the downtown," Peterson said.

Peterson said the small fee to park in a ramp has basically eliminated the worry of getting a ticket. She said paying 75 cents for going over your time limit is cheaper than getting around a $20 ticket.

The parking utility board said they would like to have all downtown employees parking in the ramps. That way the spots on the streets are available for those visiting downtown.

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