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May 6, 2011

Agenda

  1. Call to Order and Minutes;
  2. Discuss Parking with Downtown Retailers;
  3. Provide Feedback for Transit Development Plan Update;
  4. Discuss Future Parking Ramps;
  5. Update on Great Northern Parking Conference;
  6. Review Monthly Parking Space Definition and Cost;
  7. Review Operator's Report; and
  8. Other Issues

Minutes

Item 1: Approve the Minutes of the Regular Meeting of April 1, 2011

Ms. Walvatne moved the minutes of the April 1, 2011 Planning Commission meeting be approved. Second by Ms. Bailly. All Members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Item 2: Discuss Parking with Downtown Retailers, AND Item 4: Discuss Future Parking Ramps

Greg Danz of Zandbroz Variety, Mark Weiler of the Downtowners, and Mike Hahn of the Downtown Community Partnership (DCP) introduced themselves. Mr. Weiler summarized recent discussions that the group of downtown retailers has held. Mr. Danz agreed the Roberts Street North site seems promising for a parking ramp, and retailers would like to be involved in the process and partner with the City. Mr. Hahn reviewed some of the ideas that the Commission and the DCP would like to see explored. Senior Planner Bob Stein reviewed the information he distributed to the Commission showing locations where more parking capacity could be added, as well as problems with some of those locations, including the possibility of adding two levels to the Radisson, but at a prohibitive cost. He distributed maps and information about the ownership and layout of the parking lot on the north side of Second Avenue North at Roberts Street. He reviewed the discussions with neighboring land owners and the possibility of spanning Second Avenue to tie the north and south lots together.

Mr. Stein noted that the problem with .any planned parking structure is the lack of funding. He reviewed funding sources available to the Parking Commission and options for securing funds to pay for a new ramp. The Commission discussed how other cities accumulate their revenue. He stated a design study would be the next likely step in the process. Commissioner Williams noted that programs maximizing the usage of existing Parking Commission structures and spaces are also an important part of this discussion. He agreed planning and design needs to start soon, so the work on new lots or structures can begin immediately once the Island Park Ramp is paid for in 2015. The Commission discussed future development and how it would impact parking downtown. Mr. Stein noted goals
of long-term development plans for Fargo may be voted on at the go2030.net website.

Chair Williams noted that new parking ramps could include retail on the main level both to bring in revenue and to make the ramp more successful. The Commission discussed how to approach developers and landowners. Ms. Bailly suggested a subcommittee meet with interested parties. Mr. Danz suggested involving transit and North Dakota State University (NDSU) in partnering to create workable solutions. The Commission discussed how transit and parking work together and how much undeveloped space exists in the downtown area. They considered how to analyze existing and future demand. The Commission discussed how much a parking lot at Second Avenue and Roberts Street North would ease parking demand issues for north-end retailers, and whether it would serve the retail businesses that most need parking space for customers. Ms. Bailly pointed out that business owners have long wanted an alley altered into a pedestrian alley, which would offer an excellent tie-in for a ramp to stores along Broadway. The Commission discussed how the ramp would serve both daytime and nighttime needs.

Planning and Development Director Jim Gilmour explained options under consideration for circulator buses. Commissioner Williams stated that some street funds could be used for transit, and is being considered by the Finance Committee. Mr. Gilmour stated that spanning Second Avenue would be a very expensive option. He noted the City has the power of eminent domain. He suggested the present focus remain on funding sources for the time being rather than moving forward with design studies. He stated that finding partners would be required to make this project financially acceptable to the Finance Committee and the City Commission.

Sue Kuhn of Boucle Yarn Studio explained her store offers many group activities that extend longer than the 90-minute parking allowance. She stated a valet service would be welcomed, as many of the customers have large items to move from their vehicles. She expressed her support for the ramp as discussed. The Commission agreed to include Mr. Weiler, Mr. Hahn, Mr. Stein, Mr. Gilmour, Chairperson Williams, Ms. Bailly, and Commissioner Wimmer on a subcommittee to explore partnerships and funding sources for the ramp.

Item 3: Discuss Transit Development Plan

Chair Williams introduced Joe Nigg and Mike Kunza of the Metropolitan Council of Government (MetroCOG). Mr. Nigg noted that the Transit Development Plan (TDP) aimed to set goals and plan for the next five years. He distributed documents to the Commission and asked for their comments. He described the public input process that brought the plan to this point. The Commission reviewed comments from the public, and Mr. Nigg stated riders have asked for increased frequency on several routes serving the downtown area. Mr. Kunza stated the consultant working on the TDP began tracking trains through downtown to help plan routes and timing around the usual schedule. Mr. Nigg explained MetroCOG's involvement with the TDP and noted that the draft, as well as a majority of the information, is available on their web site. Commissioner Williams noted that an underpass of the tracks at Fourth Street was a part of the studies for Main Avenue, First Avenue, and Northern Pacific Avenue. The Commission discussed other ways to involve transit more in bringing to and moving people around downtown.

Mr. Kunza noted that signal priority was being looked at more closely to improve the time accuracy of existing routes. Mr. Nigg reminded the Commission that the ramp just across the river off of First Avenue North is also underutilized. He stated that MetroCOG is open to feedback on all areas of the TOP. The Commission discussed how these issues tie into the Fargo Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated. Mr. Stein pointed out that parking needs to be considered a part of the transportation system as cars spend more time sitting than moving. Mr. Nigg agreed and suggested that he work with the subcommittee to look at funding sources MetroCOG may have access to or knowledge of, outside of Mr. Stein's sphere. He said they would welcome a formal statement from the Parking Commission as well.

Item 5: Great Northern Parking Conference

Mr. Stein updated the Commission on the status of the Great Northern Parking Conference. He discussed the timing and goals of the conference with the Board.

Item 6: Review Monthly Parking Space Definition and Cost

This item will be discussed at subsequent meetings.

Item 7: Operator's Report

Mr. Rogne reviewed the numbers of monthly renters and the amount of monthly parking revenue. He explained the main reason for the decrease in rentals was the result of college students leaving. He reviewed the comments he received from others who had cancelled their monthly rentals. The Commission discussed the condition and maintenance of the Second Avenue North Lot.

Item 8: Other Issues

There being no further business to come before the Commission, the meeting was adjourned.