Downtown Eau Claire Parking Ramp
Posted: August 28, 2015
I have always been a proponent of having the downtown Eau Claire parking ramp be a four-level facility. However, I was surprised that the city council this week passed a resolution to construct a fourth level because it was obvious to me that it would be difficult to find the necessary financing for the extra level. The fourth level is estimated to cost $2.2 million.
The parking ramp, currently under construction, was to be three levels that would provide 570 parking stalls. The structure would be used primarily during the week by nearby companies, including RCU and JAMF Software. Although RCU has contracted with the city to utilize up to 230 parking stalls, JAMF Software has not committed to a contract yet.
In the meantime, city finance officials are trying to figure out a way to pay for the extra level of the parking ramp. If the city council officially approves construction of a fourth level, the timeline to open the facility would be delayed three months and would not open until early September, 2016.
I have usually agreed with Council President Kerry Kincaid, Council Member Kathy Mitchell, Council Member Eric Larsen and Council Member Catherine Emmanuelle. That's why it is concerning to me that all four voted against the resolution to construct a fourth level to the parking ramp. Emmanuelle was most concerned about the possibility that the city would not be able to contribute its expected investment into the performing arts center as part of the Confluence Project. If that were to occur, that would be a major disappointment.
On the other hand, when I go to the post office on Saturday morning, it is obvious that we have a parking shortage in the downtown business district. Between the Farmer's Market in Phoenix Park and any other activity in the central business district on any given weekend, it is nearly impossible to get around safely. That's why, in the past, I have been in favor of having a fourth level added to the parking ramp.
But, if a sound financing solution cannot be provided by city staff, then maybe it's best to wait on adding another level to the parking ramp. It may cost more to add a level in the future, but it appears to me that it may be prudent to wait and see what else happens in the downtown area before taking on more than we can handle.
REMINDER: There will be no issue of The Bottom Line next week - Sept. 4, 2015, due to the Labor Day holiday weekend. Ropa Publishing Company wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday weekend.