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Study suggests replacing ramp, other parking improvements downtown

Post Date:02/05/2015

Replacement of an aging parking ramp with a mixed-use ramp, mobile payment options and tiered parking ramp pricing are all recommendations included in a downtown parking study released Thursday.

downtown wide shot 

The $68,000 study by Walker Parking Consultants was commissioned last summer to help Appleton deliver better downtown parking services to the community in the future. 

“The Downtown Parking Study Report is a planning tool that will guide us through decisions related to the policies and practices of our public parking system,” said Public Works Director Paula Vandehey. 

The report provides options for four possible planning scenarios and 15 separate recommendations to improve parking at on-street and parking ramp locations throughout downtown. 

Soliders Square tight  

The study examined the effects of the anticipated loss of parking in the 401-space City-owned Blue Ramp behind the City Center and the 450-space YMCA-owned Soldiers Square Ramp. The two ramps have been in service for roughly 50 years. They will be unfit for use and need to be torn down by 2020. The study also looked at anticipated developments that include a new library, possible exhibition center and potential relocation of City Hall to the current library site.

It is important to remember these are recommendations by the consultant. The Common Council will ultimately decide which recommendations from the study are appropriate for implementation in downtown Appleton. The parking study is meant to compliment the city’s strategic plan for a walkable, pedestrian-friendly downtown and the recommendations will help the city deliver an improved user-experience by providing better access and parking options. 

The study area includes 9,178 total parking spaces in a 56-block area of downtown. A total of 54% of those spaces are owned by the City and available for the public in a combination of on-street and ramp parking. The other 46% of spaces are privately owned. The study notes that overall there is a general surplus of up to 2,400 available parking spaces in the downtown area at any given time of day. However, Walker notes there are several portions of downtown that experience localized shortages. 

The four planning scenarios range from the current state of downtown with no new development and no expected growth, to scenarios that address several options for the library, exhibition center and relocation of City Hall or other business to the current library site. 

Walker Parking is recommending a mixed-use ramp with retail/office space on the ground floor to replace the Soldiers Square Ramp in the future, regardless of any new downtown development. Walker suggests a replacement ramp with 575 spaces near the YMCA/Soldiers Square Ramp would cost approximately $10 million. The ramp would be funded through a public/private partnership and owned by the City.

Parking for a new exhibition center can be absorbed by the City-owned Red Ramp and Green Ramp. Both are located near the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel which would operate the proposed exhibition center.

Under two of the other scenarios 200-400 additional parking spaces may be needed near the current location of the Blue Ramp. The extra parking would accommodate future growth and development if the library expands at its current location or if another entity moves into that space. 

The study recommends the City make a significant investment in new technology to allow for credit card and pay-by-phone options for all on-street meters as well as all City-owned parking ramps. Other recommendations include:

  • Tiered pricing to encourage longer-term parking in ramps and shorter-term parking on streets
  • Reduced on-street parking enforcement hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Offer longer-term on-street parking at a reduced rate north and south of College Avenue
  • Lawrence University expanding Chapel parking lot by 50-spaces to alleviate on-street parking congestion in the surrounding neighborhood
  • A “neighborhood on-street parking zone” in the north and east section of downtown with 2-hour parking from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Creating an education and awareness campaign regarding available parking downtown
Walker conducted interviews and focus groups with city staff, Appleton Downtown Inc., Lawrence University, the YMCA and Outagamie County, as well as downtown businesses and community members. 

The findings of the study will go before the Municipal Services Committee on Tuesday, February 10 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. You can read the full report here. 

Appleton Communications Coordinator Chad Doran can be reached at (920) 832-5814


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