LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Of the 40 or so residents that spoke at Tuesday night's meeting, all but 2 spoke out against the proposed changes to parking in the city.
Many La Crosse officials have also been receiving angry phone calls from residents in the past few days. People are expressing their disapproval of proposed changes to residential parking throughout the city.
The proposal for no overnight parking on city streets without a permit, year-round alternate side parking and two-hour parking during the day has caused phones to be ringing off the hook at the mayor's office, but La Crosse city officials said no one has endorsed the changes, they are simply proposed changes that were created to spark discussion.
Since releasing the changes Friday, City Council member Sara Sullivan has gotten a lot of feedback.
"One is that citywide is not really the way to go. I think there is a lot of concern about alternate side parking. Those are the big issues that we've heard," Sullivan said.
Of the approximately 200 people at the meeting Tuesday, half were college students. Many felt they would be the most affected, but were least included in the planning.
"I've served on the Student Association and it's disappointing to me that no one came to us and asked for our input as we represent the students," said one speaker.
Another said, "students want to be heard, they are giving up one, two hours of their finals week to be here and to express their concern for these changes."
"The thing I feel worst about right now is the fact that the students feel we tried to pull one over on them, because what we really did is hurry up and try to get something together so that we could talk to them before they left, and it wasn't as well developed as it could've been," said Sullivan.
Sullivan said something else she is hearing from residents is that no one anywhere would pay to park on residential streets. However, she said when the committee was looking at the other cities around Wisconsin, it found La Crosse is the only city with a U.W. campus that does not have parking restrictions in the campus area.
Mayor Tim Kabat said he does see a need for parking changes in certain residential areas. "I think we need to look at residential permits in some of those areas that we have some of the most congestion."
But Kabat thinks the committee needs to go back to the drawing board. "There isn't any part of the proposal that I am supporting at this point," he said.
Although the backlash to these proposals was swift and loud, Sullivan said Tuesday's meeting will help the council moving forward. "I'm soaking it in and I will meet with people and do some strategizing about how to proceed," said Sullivan.
Noticeably absent from Tuesday's meeting were the neighborhood groups who support the ideas in the first place.
Sullivan isn't sure if she overestimated how much they think parking is a problem or whether they will show up in greater force at the next public hearing.
If you would like to voice your opinion about proposed parking changes, the next meeting will be May 29th at the Southside Neighborhood Center starting at 6:30 p.m.
The meeting originally scheduled for next Tuesday, May 20th has been postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date.
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