Parking ramps in downtown could see changes once again

La Crosse’s Parking Utility board will try to tackle the big issues surrounding parking in downtown La Crosse.

As the board prepares to start planning out its budget for 2016, members are trying to find what’s most important in tackling parking concerns in downtown La Crosse.

Some of the items the board wants to tackle include revisiting the cost of parking and the permit parking situation in the ramps.

Board member and city council member James Cherf said over the past year, folks have gotten used to paying to park, but there are still problems.

It’s been just over a year since gates and pay stations became operational at three downtown La Crosse parking ramps.

Those in charge of parking in the city said the transition was rough for a while, but folks seem to have it figured out.

“That’s not unusual if you go to other communities to park in parking structures and honestly it does make sense and I think people realize that it makes sense,” Cherf said.

Cherf said though most drivers are used to the idea of paying to park, the board still needs to reevaluate some things, with a big one being the number of spaces being leased.

As of Friday, there are no more spots available to lease in the Main Street ramp, but there are almost 150 available rental spaces between the La Crosse Center and Market Square ramps.

“We find that the Main Street parking ramp tends to be very heavily subscribed and that creates a shortage of parking in that parking ramp many times,” Cherf said.

Robin Moses, of Downtown Mainstreet, represents the downtown businesses as a member of the parking board. She said the most important thing is to make sure the ramps are being used correctly by those choosing to park there.

“To make sure that we’re taking a real good look at the proper utilization of the ramps, that the ramps are being fully utilized and that our employees are utilizing the ramps, so we want to work a little bit more on that, coming up with solutions in that area,” Moses said.

“There will be bugs to work out in everything, but it’s a learning curve, and we’re trying to maximize the ability to utilize our ramps,” Cherf said.

In terms of addressing the parking fee, there is no idea currently on the table to raise or lower the charge.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat has stated that he wants a new position created for an employee to completely oversee and manage the parking ramps. Currently, the police department and other city employees watch over the ramps.

The board hopes to find solutions in the coming months as it’s already beginning the budget planning process.