Plan to eliminate free meters on Sundays in 45th dropped


A plan to eliminate free metered parking on Sundays in the 45th Ward has been dropped, while a free public parking lot at 6739 N. Northwest Highway will remain open after the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce purchased the property.

Alderman John Arena (45th) was one of several aldermen who were seeking to have paid Sunday parking in their ward reinstated in an effort to encourage turnover of parking spaces in front of stores and restaurants. Last year Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration negotiated a change in the city’s contract with Chicago Parking Meters LLC to allow free Sunday parking in neighborhood commercial districts.

Arena’s request was contingent on the hourly parking rate in the ward being reduced from $2 to $1.75 seven days a week to give the area’s commercial districts a competitive advantage over those in nearby ward’s, where the rate was to remain $2 per hour.

Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the 45th ward will be removed from an ordinance which would bring back paid metered parking on Sundays in five wards because a rate reduction could not be negotiated. Brugh said that the contact with Chicago Parking was a "horrible" deal for Chicago taxpayers and that Arena did not want to add to the company’s windfall by allowing paid parking on Sundays without a rate reduction.

The Edison Park Chamber recently purchased a 25-space parking lot at the northeast corner of Northwest Highway and Oshkosh Avenue. The chamber had been leasing the lot from the Chicago Board of Education since 1997, but the future of the 6,200-square-foot parcel became uncertain a year ago when the school board decided to seek buyers for the site and for other surplus properties.

Chamber executive director Melissa McIntyre-Panizzi said that the need for free parking was evident during a 6-week period earlier this year when parking enforcement workers patrolled the area around the clock and issued tickets minutes after drivers left their parked cars. "It’s free, so people should use it instead of paying the meters," McIntyre-Panizzi said.

The lot has a 2-hour parking limit until 6 p.m., and no overnight parking is allowed. Employees of area stores are not allowed to use the lot, McIntyre-Panizzi said.

The chamber, which was the only bidder for the parcel, paid $174,233 for the property after it secured a 5-year loan for the project, McIntyre-Panizzi said. The chamber, which purchased a 16-space parking lot at 6718 N. Oliphant Ave. in 2003, was in good financial position to obtain a loan because of its successful fund-raisers, including the "Edison Park Fest" which it sponsors each August, she said.