If Downtown Naperville Charges for Parking, Will they Continue to Come?

I’ve been observing the ongoing debate regarding the history behind free parking in downtown Naperville and the future funding of additional parking as the allure of the Naperville experience continues to expand.

In the 1970’s, downtown decided to battle back against the rise of indoor shopping malls and strip malls with ample parking by keeping parking free in downtown.  Today, downtown Naperville has survived and thrived amidst the glut of strip malls which stripped away the attraction of downtowns across America in the 70s.

Some suggest that downtown is a strong enough destination to sustain present levels of economic activity while implementing paid parking to fund the additional structures which are needed.  Others turn to the new food and beverage tax which would allow an additional 1% to be added if the majority of downtown restaurants agree.  Still others suggest that restaurants should not be left to shoulder the burden as there are many downtown offices and businesses that occupy parking spaces all day long. 

Today I offer another angle to be considered which perhaps holds the answer to the dilemma.  We must ask residents and visitors alike who frequent downtown Naperville to determine their tolerance for paid parking and the amount they might be willing to pay in maintaining their regular visits.  If we discover, via interviews and survey research, that paid parking would be a deterrent to trips downtown, the answer and potential risk may become very clear.



4 responses to “If Downtown Naperville Charges for Parking, Will they Continue to Come?

  1. Bob Fieseler, Nville City Councilman

    It’s seems to me that the question of how to pay for downtown parking, at least the portion to be paid by those patronizing our downtown, boils down to this: At what point should they be charged?? Should it be at a meter located in the parking deck or even on the street?? Or should it be via a percentage add-on to their meal charges (1% if 75% of the downtown restaurant property owners agree to the new downtown food & beverage tax)?? The parking meter option would be arguably less convenient in that it involves fumbling around with cash or credit cards, but it would assess a parking fee based upon actual use. The 1% add-on would be more convenient to administer, especially because we’re already collecting a 1% Special Events & Cultural Amenities tax on restaurant meals city-wide, but the new 1% add-on would be assessed against even those who don’t park in our decks while dining downtown. I’d be interested in hearing which which way of assessing a parking fee is most appealing to readers of your blog. ~Bob Fieseler, Nville City Councilman.

  2. My thanks to Councilman Fieseler for framing the parking issue so well. Even more, it’s great to see him seeking the opinion of Napervillians proactively. As I mentioned in my post above, I would love to put the question to visitors and residents alike as to what they would prefer as well as whether or not parking meters might deter their trips downtown.

    Personally, given the amount of time my family and I spend downtown, I would hate to see two hour meters that require constant trips back to the car to refresh the meter. It would take part of the enjoyment of spending so much time downtown. I would be happy to pay an additional 1% tax on food & beverage to preserve free parking for Naperville. Eventually, everyone who comes downtown eats or drinks something. Further, if I lived downtown or did not a need a car to get downtown, I would not mind paying the extra 1% f&b tax. Let’s keep the downtown Naperville experience as unobstructed as possible and eliminate the stress over expired parking meters when you find yourself at the opposite end of the Riverwalk.

  3. A footnote to my previous comment. 1% of a $100 restaurant check would only be $1 extra. A much better deal than paying what would certainly be more for a parking meter not to speak of not having to worry as much over an expired meter vs. chalked tires.

  4. Pingback: Councilman Fieseler Comments on Downtown Parking Issue at the World of Naperville - Share Your Thoughts « World of Naperville

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