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March 11, 2011

Agenda

  1. Call to Order and Minutes;
  2. Present Year-End Financial Information and Parking Program Updates;
  3. Review Requests for Proposals: (a) Island Park Ramp Landscaping, (b) Broadway Streetscape Landscaping, (c) Radisson Ramp Stairwell Painting;
  4. Update on Energy Efficiency Upgrades: (a) Radisson Ramp Bids, (b) Island Park Ramp Results;
  5. Review Parking Brochure Updates;
  6. Update on Great Northern Parking Conference;
  7. Review Operator's Report; and
  8. Other Issues.

Minutes

Commissioner Williams called the meeting to order. Mr. Engen moved to approve the minutes of the January 7, 2011 meeting and Ms. Walvatne seconded the motion. All members present voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Year-End Financial Information and Parking Program Update

Mr. Stein reviewed the financial information for 2010 and noted that he had presented the same information to the City Commission on March 7, 2010. He explained the four different funds through which parking operates and for what each of them was used. He described some of the projects that had been paid for through the surplus fund. He detailed the balances for these funds at the end of 2010. The commission discussed how the decision was made on which fund to use for a project.

Mr. Stein described the three debts that were serviced through parking funds and pointed out that the revenues were approximately equal to the repair and maintenance costs. He stated that five of the ten city-owned lots were full to capacity, including all four of the northern lots. The Commission discussed how retail and residential growth had outstripped parking capacity. They considered options for generating revenue and expanding parking downtown.

The Commission discussed solutions other than building a single, large parking structure and how to know how much demand would need to be met. Commissioner Williams explained some of the options for city and developer partnerships. Mr. Stein described some of the unknowns including North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Sanford development and the Commission discussed how pursuing such partnerships could encourage their investment in downtown. They considered how to garner support
among the public and city administration for finding funding. Mr. Stein pointed out that total expenditures had been about $2 million on repair and maintenance. He reviewed the income from the various parking permit programs.

Review Requests for Proposals

Mr. Stein reviewed the proposals for aesthetic improvements on the Island Park Ramp and the Broadway Streetscape. He described the intent of the improvements and the commission discussed any adjustments and additions that might need to be made before the two requests for proposals were published.

Update on Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Ms. Citrowske reminded the commission of the federal grant Fargo had received and pointed out that a North Dakota (ND) state grant would pay for lighting upgrades at the Radisson ramp. She reviewed the graphs of energy demand before and after the lighting improvements had been installed and the Commission agreed that the changes had been dramatic. Mr. Stein pointed out that the same federal grant had paid to have the street and decorative lights on Broadway changed to LEDs.

Review Parking Brochure Updates

Ms. Citrowske reviewed changes to the parking brochures to incorporate the new monthly rates and the change in terminology from “short move parking” to “re-parking”. She pointed out that the Downtown Residential Parking Permit Program (DRP3) brochure had not been updated since the program had begun and noted that she had changed it to look more like the other handouts for parking programs. The Commission discussed using social media to spread the word about things like the Plenty of Parking (POP) tickets and the DRP3. Mr. Lynch noted that staying current on social media sites using existing staffing levels to be consistently updated was critical and that NDSU did not have the staff for that on the parking and transit side. Ms. Stoker suggested that creating a persona for parking in general rather than providing only information on city-owned lots.

Update on Great Northern Parking Conference

Mr. Stein stated that the Canadian Parking Association wished to have another conference and that they were interested in holding it in Fargo in mid-July, 2011. He noted that it was difficult for other cities in North Dakota to attend parking conferences so many of them had expressed an interest in attending this one. He pointed out that the conference would end just as the Fargo Street Fair began. Commissioner Williams pointed out that sharing information with others who faced the same challenges, both in the state and in the region, made for a more useful discussion. Mr. Stein stated that David Feehan would be a featured speaker for the conference and David Hill from Winnipeg would also be speaking. He noted that he would be presenting a talk on enforcing parking without meters as it was an issue that all of ND and many places in South Dakota and Minnesota addressed as well.

Commissioner Williams suggested a speaker’s bureau as part of the Comprehensive Growth Plan and noted that speakers about parking concerns could be included as well. The commission discussed keeping the keynote speaker’s presentation open to the public to get people involved as well as taking video of the conference and making it available on disc or on-line.

Review Operator’s Report

Mr. Rogne reviewed the revenue and occupancy rates for January and February, 2011. He noted that most of the college students had dropped their monthly rental in the Island Park ramp but that new spaces rented by Sanford had more than made up for the loss. He pointed out that anyone looking to rent a space on the north end of downtown was being directed to the Civic Center lot and the Island Park ramp. Mr. Stein suggested raising the cap of 100 monthly rental spaces in the Civic Center lot as there simply wasn’t capacity anywhere else.

Mr. Rogne explained that the previous rate increase for the NP Avenue lot had been in February, 2009. He stated that, at that time, the hourly parking had been doing well but the increase from $3 to $5 per day drove many people to rent a monthly spot and that the free parking farther west on NP was seeing more use. He stated that they hadn’t had the lot completely full since July, 2010. He noted that the lot no longer charged for evening parking and that the change had impacted its revenue.

Mr. Rogne noted that he had received only about five comments to his office about the recent rate changes and that they had mostly been questions about the rate history at the Island Park ramp. Mr. Stein pointed out that the monthly rental did not include a guarantee of a space in a lot but that it may be coming to a point where it will be necessary. They commission discussed how many renters the NP Avenue lot could bear without discouraging hourly parking.

Mr. Rogne pointed out that the monthly rental rates on the web site had not been updated, either. There being no further business to come before the commission, the meeting was adjourned.