Big changes potentially coming for street parking in La Crosse

The city is considering charging by the hour for street parking near the UW-La Crosse and Western Technical College campuses.

The La Crosse City Council will decide tonight whether to pass a one-year test program that will charge $1 an hour to park near UW-L and Western.

If the program passes and is successful, the city council says it may be put in place in other parts of the city.

And even though some city officials like the idea, it’s getting push-back from some students.

UW-L student Zach Gambrel says he can’t afford to pay for street parking, “I’d probably just have to leave my house earlier or invest in a bike. College is expensive, so is living around town so if I have to pay for parking on top of that, especially on public streets, I think that’d be a little ridiculous.”

UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow says several students he’s spoken with feel the same way, “As you might imagine, people at the university and at TC are not excited about this and don’t want to see it happen.”

Gow said parking is a major issue on campus.

“Here at UW-L we don’t have enough space. We have 200 students on a waiting list to get permits for our parking lots,” Gow said.

Students are already parking in residential neighborhoods near campus and if they’re charged to park by the school. Gow thinks the problem will only get worse.

“If you’re only charging for the street right next to the campus most people would say, well then, I’m going to move a block or two over. So now you’ve got even more cars in the neighborhoods, it’s harder for the people who live there to park in front of their own home,” Gow said.

UW-L student Peyton Medick lives a few block off campus and is worried that might happen.

“Our fear is we have to park on the street. We don’t have a driveway or anything. So we think that the people that don’t want to pay for parking will push back into where we park and there’s not going to be enough spots for us to park at our house,” Medick said.

City Council member Gary Padesky has a different take on things. He thinks charging for parking near the school will prevent students from taking cars in the first place, “As part of their tuition they have free bus, I think some will hopefully start using the bus, I think there could be some carpooling that they’re not doing.

If this program is passed it may eventually be applied to other parts of La Crosse.

“It’s been talked about maybe going near the hospitals and those areas where there also are some problems,” Padesky said.

There’s even been talk of eventually implementing the program citywide, but that possibility is a long way away.

And even though the program is currently proposing to charge $1 an hour for parking, Padesky would like to see it charge around 50 cents an hour.

Either way, we should know within a few hours whether this program will be going into effect.

Both Padesky and UW- La crosse say they’re open to working with each other to discuss further the impact of this program.

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