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New council addresses parking garage study, ad hoc committee will rate options

A study report on possible sites for a downtown parking garage was addressed by the Hudson City Council for the first time Monday night, April 21.

Mayor Alan Burchill said he had waited for the new council to be seated following the spring election to put the report by Walker Parking Consultants on a meeting agenda. He said it seemed to make sense to tackle the issue once the membership of the council was decided for the coming year.

There are new representatives in two of the six aldermanic districts –- Tom McCormick in District 3 and Jim Webber in District 4.

Burchill asked the council for direction on how to go about reviewing the report, and ultimately deciding on a course of action.

In the end, the alderpersons accepted his recommendation to have a special committee of council members and city staff study the options and issue a recommendation.

Burchill suggested that the chairs of the Public Safety and Public Works committees, Randy Morrissette II and Mary Yacoub, and District 5 Alderperson John Hoggatt serve on the committee. The downtown parking garage, if built, would be in Hoggatt’s district.

The mayor also will be on the committee, along with Community Development Director Dennis Darnold, Public Works Director Tom Zeuli and Police Chief Marty Jensen.

The first meeting of the ad hoc downtown parking committee is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, in the council chambers of City Hall.

Walker Parking looked at two possible locations for a parking garage: the North Lot at the intersection of Second and Vine streets, and the Williams Lot located behind the Public Safety Building on Walnut Street.

The consultant offered three concept plans for a garage on the Williams Lot, and two for the North Lot. It found the Williams Lot to be best site for a parking garage.

The Williams Lot could provide a net increase of more than 200 parking stalls, is the closest to the heart of the downtown business district and would offer the most cost-effective construction, the Walker Parking report says.

It suggests demolishing the existing Hudson Fire Department station as a way of increasing the capacity of the garage.

“We need to address the issue,” Burchill said, adding that downtown parking has been a topic of discussion for 25 years.

The mayor stopped short of endorsing construction of a parking garage, however. He noted that the estimated cost of one of the proposals is $4.2 million, and that building a new Public Safety Building could take another $4.5 to $5 million.

One of the tasks of the special committee is to recommend how to pay for a parking garage, he said.

Alderperson Tom McCormick asked what the timeline is for moving forward with the project.

“I think we want to move as quickly as we can,” Burchill said, but later indicated that he doesn’t expect major action until next year.

Alderperson Mary Yacoub raised the possibility of bringing a proposal to city voters in a fall referendum.

She said a new Public Works facility could be combined with a new Public Safety Building.

Council President Randy Morrissette II said the city should explore purchasing real estate for adding parking.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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