URBANA – University of Illinois students who want to avoid parking fees are using the streets of a north Urbana neighborhood as a free parking lot.
But that could soon change.
At a public meeting at Martin Luther King Elementary School - on Tuesday night, city public works and parking officials discussed several options for ridding the neighborhood between Goodwin Avenue, Wright Street, Beslin Street and Church Street of commuter parking. The neighborhood is just north and northeast of Provena Covenant Medical Center.
The option city officials recommended, with the apparent concurrence of the small audience, was to implement two-hour weekday parking.
"We really think this option is the best in terms of meeting the goal," said Pat Pioletti, facilities manager for the city. "We're hesitant to propose a bunch of restrictions because it is really inconvenient to the residents."
The recommendation will go to the Urbana City Council for consideration at its Jan. 23 committee of the whole meeting.
Pioletti said that if the two-hour parking limit is put in place, it would be followed by a period of heavy enforcement, with violators getting $10 tickets. After commuter parkers leave the neighborhood, the two-hour limit would be enforced on a complaint basis, he said.
The meeting was sparsely attended, with two residents, Andra Owens and Malinda Wallick, attending, along with aldermen Robert Lewis, D-Ward 3, and Dennis Roberts, D-Ward 5.
Lewis called the two-hour limit "a good solution."
"The behavior issue (illegal parking) will take a little longer," he said. "If it doesn't quite work out, we can massage it and make it work."
Owens, who lives at 1303 W. Beslin St., said she was skeptical the two-hour parking limit will work.
"University of Illinois students are going to ignore these tickets," she said. "They'll stay one hour and 59 minutes. We shall see if it works."
Wallick, of 1211 W. Hill St., also expressed skepticism. She said students currently arrive about 7 a.m. and leave at 3 or 4 p.m.
"You know they won't come and move their car," she said.
Parking congestion on her narrow street makes it hard for her to back out of her own driveway, Wallick said.
Due to the sparse attendance, Pioletti said he intends to mail residents a letter describing the five parking options considered and the recommended solution, and informing residents of the Jan. 23 council meeting.