Wisconsin Street parking to be revamped

By Dave Fidlin

After extensive review, parking changes will soon be implemented along portions of Wisconsin Street as two separate initiatives within Whitewater take hold.

The Common Council on Aug. 5 adopted an ordinance concerning parking along one of the city’s more prominent roadways. Parking spaces are being reviewed on the east side of Wisconsin Street, from Milwaukee to Clay streets.

Before taking action at last week’s meeting, the council heard from a concerned resident about the parking provisions. A suggestion was made to instead divert the one-side-of-street parking plan to nearby Green Street, which is wider and lacks the industrial developments that dot portions of Wisconsin Street.

But the council held firm to its original plan and moved forward with the Wisconsin Street restrictions.

Matt Amundson, parks and recreation director, has been intricately involved in the changes. He initiated a neighborhood meeting that was aimed at gathering feedback from property owners living within the impacted area.

“What we have is a compromised approach that isn’t going to please everyone,” Amundson said. “But the belief is this is a livable compromise. I agree there are other avenues that could be looked at.”

During last week’s deliberations, council member Lynn Binnie inquired if exceptions could be granted in certain situations, such as a wedding at the American Legion facility that is within the impacted area.

In response, Amundson said, “I know there have been concerns about what constitutes a special event.” The goal, Amundson said, is to have a consistent plan in place.

One of the overarching concerns about the tightened parking restrictions related to parking for residents who have guests over at their homes.

But council member Ken Kidd offered up a suggestion. The Trippe Lake parking lot, which in most instances is about a block away from the impacted area, generally has more than adequate parking.

There is a two-pronged reason behind the changes to parking along Wisconsin Street. The first is the East Gateway construction project, which is underway. Altering traffic patterns along Wisconsin Street is designed to improve accessibility to the commercial corridor.

Also, the reduction in parking comes as new bike lanes are added. This is one of many recommendations included within the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Plan, which was adopted late last year by the council.

In lieu of the parking spaces on the east side of Wisconsin Street, a 5-foot parking lane will be created, from the Milwaukee Street intersection to the entrance leading into Trippe Lake Park.

Parking spaces will remain on the west side of Wisconsin Street, with lanes expected to be about 8 feet wide. Two lanes for motorists also will be marked, with each having a width of 11-and-a-half feet.

According to numbers crunched by Amundson, the city expects to spend about $3,828 to undertake the Wisconsin Street revamp. Most of the funds will go toward installing new pavement markings and placing related signage in the impacted area.

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