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Utica forms committee to review parking needs

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 3, 2016

UTICA — In the less than 2-square-mile city of Utica, it is no secret that parking has been a long-standing issue. The introduction of a ballpark with a total capacity of 4,500 fans per game has fanned the fire.

On July 12, the Utica City Council unanimously approved Mayor Jacqueline Noonan’s proposal to create a parking committee to review all parking in the city, including on-street and undeveloped lots.

“I’ve only been in Utica 52 years minus one month, and I know that parking has always been a problem, even though we added a parking lot that fits 800 cars,” Noonan said July 12.

The committee will include Noonan, Police Chief David Faber, City Attorney Jim McGrail, Department of Public Works Superintendent Bill Lange and staff from the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development, which provides the city’s planning services.

One of the committee’s duties, Noonan said, will be to encourage businesses in the historic downtown area to carefully design and use their existing space for parking. Another duty, she said, will be to address new parking requirements from the state.

Future parking plans include rounding out parking areas on both sides of the Clinton River near Jimmy John’s Field, and possibly expanding parking along Van Dyke Avenue or on the other side of M-59, Noonan said.

At the meeting, Noonan also announced that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is giving the city another $126,000 grant to rehabilitate land slated to become parking lots on either side of the river.

“I think a general review of parking in all the areas of the city is called for,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Sikora voiced concern about parking on game days for residents who live near the stadium, especially those who live on Brownell Street.

“Every other major city in the country has resident-permit parking, so that means that people in the ballpark can’t be there. The residents — that is their parking,” Sikora said. “That is something I personally want a part of this.”

Noonan agreed and promised that the study would be comprehensive. In her motion, she recommended that the committee work on the topic and come back no later than the Sept. 13 City Council meeting with some recommendations.

“We don’t want to be shortsighted,” she said. “Any comments or actions will come back to City Council and the public.”

For more information, call Utica City Hall at (586) 739-1600.