Private Sector Debates Parking Sale
Rockford Development Group member Kurt Hassberger and Rockford Construction CEO John Wheeler told the city in writing that if commissioners accepted the
They also wrote that a sale to
"We do not believe that privatizing the existing public parking facilities makes sense. Acceptance of the current proposal would reverse over 30 years of planning," wrote Hassberger and Wheeler in a letter to the commission.
"Projects such as the new Blue Cross Blue Shield corporate headquarters could not have happened if the
Rockford Development brought BCBS and its 280 employees to the former Steketee's Department Store on
Executives at Grubb & Ellis|Paramount Commerce, a leading commercial real estate firm, put their feelings in writing, too. G&E|PC principals
"We believe the sale is a short-term solution with long-term negative effects. Since the proposal allows the purchasers of the lots to develop the land and only requires replacement of the parking, we are almost guaranteed a loss of well-located, CBD parking," they wrote.
Mayor George Heartwell and City Manager Kurt Kimball said they received a lot of input from real estate firms, developers, business owners and parking customers on the sale, but there was little support for the sale in all that feedback.
Kimball asked commissioners to reject the
At the urging of 1st Ward Commissioner Roy Schmidt, commissioners sent the issue back to the Parking Commission.
One idea Hoffman had was to turn over to the city the department's share of parking fines, after expenses. Gross revenue to the department from fines totals about $1 million annually. Parking commissioners are considering raising penalties for some of the violations; doing that would boost overall revenue past its current total.
Heartwell, White and 2nd Ward Commissioner Rick Tormala, who wants the city to look further into the idea of selling or leasing the city's downtown ramps, are putting together a set of guidelines for the Parking Commission to follow.
"Let's look at all ideas on how we can get more money into the general fund," said 2nd Ward Commissioner Rosalyn Bliss.
Although they didn't reject
"Privatization doesn't save money, and it always cuts services," said White, a 3rd Ward commissioner.
"Privatizing most government services is not going to save funding to the government," said Heartwell. "I plant myself firmly in the camp of a cautious skeptic."