1,250 New Parking Meters Invade Near West Side
It just gets worse and worse.
According to UIC’s independent student newspaper, The Chicago Flame, 1250 new parking meters have been installed in and around Chicago’s Illinois Medical District on the near west side.
The story contends that these meters were initiated on the behest of 2nd Ward Alderman Robert Fioretti. I think all constituents in the 2nd Ward should call and thank Ald. Fioretti for all these new meters in their ward.
To make this situation even worse is the meters must be fed 24 hours a day, seven days and week and a quarter only buys 15 minutes of time. This fee rate and hours of operation seem completely out of sync with a neighborhood in which the description of “desolate” would be a compliment. These current rates are on par with downtown and Gold Coast parking meter rates.
But, according to a spokesperson in Fioretti’s office, the alderman has an ordinance before the city council to alter the rates and hours of operation of these meters.
Oh, and don’t forget to read the comments from Fioretti’s spokesperson who claims all these new parking meters are a benefit for constituents. Yeah, right lady. Give us a break.
By Matthew Bentel
The Near West Side received attention when the Department of Revenue installed 1,250 new parking meters last month.
The new meters end the days of free parking in the largely desolate area that is under the domain of the Illinois Medical Districts’ District Development Area. The meters span an area south of Roosevelt Road to 15th Place, and west of Ashland Avenue to Damen Avenue.The Illinois Medical District (IMD) is the nation’s largest urban medical district. It maintains the District Development Area, a tax incremental financing district, as an “opportunity for medically-related development and for [Chicago Technology Park] ‘graduate’ businesses to continue their growth,” according to the IMD website.
Department of Revenue spokesman Ed Walsh believes the meters were installed to offset the demand of parking placed on the area by local businesses and institutions, including Rush Hospital.
However, Kimberly Waterman, spokesperson for Rush Hospital, is weary of the Department of Revenue’s intention with installing the meters, claiming that most hospital employees use cheaper parking provided by the hospital.
The location, according to Waterman, also serves as an inconvenience. “That’s pretty far south of us. Roosevelt is a good four blocks south of us. I don’t think this has any impact on us,” Waterman said.
Most of the area on the Near West Side is part of the 2nd ward, represented by Ald. Robert Fioretti, whose office championed the meters to be used “in lieu of parking garages.”
According to the Department of Revenue, parking meter installation must first be initiated by the alderman via a request to the City Council. Ald. Fioretti’s Chief of Staff Chris Karabis said, “it was [the alderman's] call.”
Karabis explained how the parking meters would serve as a benefit.
“A lot of people are driving from the suburbs and it definitely needed some kind of regulation, some sort of revenue-generating system,” Karabis said.
The alderman’s office justified the installation further by citing the increase of government presence in the area, including more traffic enforcers and police.
“Without enforcement, what’s the point?” Karabis said. “While driving through there, we noticed people are parking in front of or around meters. You need enforcement. I think anything that brings police presence as a positive.”
The meters, which were installed by the Department of Revenue, currently operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A quarter buys users 15 minutes of time – $1 per hour – and consumers can purchase up to 10 hours of meter time.
Fioretti’s office said the installation of all the new meters has yet to be completed, adding that there are still problems and issues that need to be confronted.
“We introduced an ordinance to change the hours [of operation] and the fees, and we’re working with the [Department of Revenue] on doing so,” Karabis said. “[These changes] include eliminating some of the meters for loading zones and standing zones. And there is a church and daycare in the area that we want to keep free parking for.”