Evanston residents propose new solution to Welsh-Ryan parking issue


Jacob Fulton/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston resident Laurie McFarlane. McFarlane attended the Thursday 7th Ward meeting to express her concerns about parking in neighborhoods around Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Jacob Fulton, Assistant City Editor

Evanston residents debated possible solutions to parking controversies surrounding professional events at Welsh-Ryan Arena during a Thursday meeting.

The 7th Ward meeting was held in response to residents’ concerns about potential obstruction of neighborhood parking during high-capacity events held at the arena. City Council voted on Nov. 11 to allow Northwestern to host seven new for-profit professional events.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) and Michael Rivera, the city’s interim parking manager, presented the plan that suggested the city could issue a separate annual parking permit for the area surrounding the stadium that would allow residents to park along the street during events.. All other cars would be ticketed.

However, some residents have already purchased street parking permits, which would affect their parking status during special events, Revelle said.

“The residents who are already in a residential parking district would already be part of the residential parking restriction details,” Revelle said. “They don’t need to buy a new permit — the restrictions would cover their parking.”

Resident Laurie McFarlane said she has already seen the effects of NU basketball games and other late-night events, emphasizing that an increase in scheduled programming could cause crowding problems if parking remains unchecked.

She said it was important she ensured her voice was heard as the city works to find a solution.

“I’ve often had the experience of coming home from running an errand in the evening and finding my block is parked up because there’s some Northwestern event,” McFarlane said. “I don’t mind the events going on. I think they’re nice, but it’s difficult to be able to find a place to park, so hopefully this system will encourage people who attend those events to park somewhere else.”

The first parking permit plan is in its most preliminary stages, Rivera said. He said he was open to altering the city’s course of action.

Residents suggested an alternative based on the city’s license plate recognition technology.

“We have to start somewhere,” Rivera said. “We need a basis to start. This is a pilot. We can expand from here to more blocks and different plans, but we need to start somewhere.”

McFarlane said she felt the residents’ suggestion to use license plate recognition was easier for attendees to understand, and hoped it would be more convenient and effective in ensuring non-residents are ticketed for street parking.

“It’s always a little difficult for residents in a busy area to manage the trade-off between freedom to park and expense of paying for permits,” McFarlane said. “The LPR system seems to offer a way to manage parking without some of the expenses of a permit system, so I hope to see the LPR system going forward.”

Both plans will be shared with the ward in Revelle’s 7th Ward newsletter, and the city will continue to collect responses from residents before presenting a proposal at a Transportation and Parking Committee at a later date.

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