Marina paid parking fears have not materialized despite ‘overwhelming number’ of vehicles


By Jack Mayne

Concerns that paid parking at the Des Moines Marina would cause unintended problems have turned out wrong as few have happened and some concerns have actually lessened.

The Council was also told the city’s finances are solid with healthy working balances. This shows current economics and the increase in large development has changed what was once a “have not” city to one with a healthy fiscal life.

Paid parking report
Marina Assistant Harbormaster Scott Wilkins reminded the Council that in 2015 the Council decided to develop and implement a paid parking system for the Marina and Beach Park with goals to “develop a new sustainable revenue stream to help pay for the replacement of bulkheads and other improvements in the North Parking Log and to increase public safety by discouraging the illegal and inappropriate uses of the parking lots …”

A major reason for the changes were to finance the crumbling seawall (see photo below) that is “getting worse and worse over time,” said Wilkins, adding that a lot of fill has been used around the wall.

During public discussions, the city heard all sorts of bad implications for paid parking that would push people to other areas to avoid the pay lots, but those fears never materialized. Councilmember Rob Back asked how the city knows that it is not a problem, and Public Works Director Carver said “it is not very scientific, but my phone didn’t ring.” There are times on weekends during events, “but the complaints just have not materialized.”

Police problems lessened
Chief George Delgado said the changes in calls for service by police in the area “have gone way down” and complaints about “cars parking with loud music and marijuana emanating from them” have decreased. Also decreasing are concerns and fears from citizens about walking on the nearby trails.

Concerns from people that paying for parking would prevent large families from coming to the area has not materialized either, the city says, and neither have concerns that paid parking would cut attendance at public events where this year’s events were up in attendance.

The city will also start a “Farmer’s Market” pass this year that will be good for every Saturday, said Wilkins. It will cost $10 for the entire season.

He said the city did hear that business was down at adjacent Anthony’s restaurant so they met with the management “and they assured us their sales are just fine, their patrons like the safety of the parking lots, their employee like the safety when they leave at night not having little inappropriate behavior back in the corner they are safe to go out to, so that was that.”

“No one has ever mentioned that paid parking was a distraction at any level whatsoever,” said Matthias.

Wilkins said there were some unanticipated problems. They include the language barrier “is a much greater problem than anticipated.” Other problems include the “chip card” processing, which is “more difficult to some to use than the old ’swipe’ system.” Another difficulty is backing and turning has been a problem on 227th and at the Beach Park, and the “consistent level of ‘first time’ visitors to the Marina and Beach Park.”

Quarter million users
“There were an absolute overwhelming number of vehicles coming to the Marina lots,” said Wilkins. “Almost a quarter of a million cars,” … and 128,661 took tickets in the first six months to come into the lots, and frequent user passes were 90,423.

He said revenue totals were $103,071 including cash, credit/debit cards and paid passes in the period of July 6 to December 31 in 2017.

For 2018 the estimates are net revenue will be in he area of $32,000, or about a 5 percent growth:

Unanticipated problems
Matthias said there probably more unanticipated problems, but there cannot be a discussion of the Marina parking without “commending Scott and Joe,” Scott Wilkins and Harbormaster Joe Dusenbury “for the incredible amount of work and effort and dedication and commitment …”

He said the challenges ongoing include finding the “appropriate fee structure” which includes any upcoming problems that must be with Marina neighbors, tenants, businesses and the community.

Healthy finances
City Manager Matthias started the Des Moines City Council study session on Thursday, May 3 by reporting that the city’s development fund balance is $4 million and the general fund in April stood at $7.2 million.

Mayor Matt Pina said “we aren’t going to gloss over that” noting “Council, we have a lot to be proud of” noting that about two years ago “we were looking at bankruptcy and now we have appropriate reserves.” That makes possible future opportunities possible, the mayor said, adding “I’m just busting at the seams with excitement and pride.”

Pina also noted that these are not surpluses, but “these are reserves for work we have to do” and Matthias said much of the money is accounted for in the current city budget and are part of the working current city budget.

Business licenses
Tara Vaughn, Des Moines city prosecutor, told Council she has sent a letter to 82 businesses that had not renewed their business licenses in 2018, and that by April 30, 22 had renewed and 16 “had reported or were determined to no longer be in business.” Also, citations were issued by the prosecutor “to be operating without a current license.”

Vaughn also said the number of criminal cases in 2017 were 753, 13 percent higher than the previous year, but that it “still remains down historically from a high of 1,235 in 2012.

The Council also heard from Police Chief Delgado that the department is in the final stages of hiring one new hire and two people from other departments. “Our best recruiters are our people.”

Twitter, Facebook
Delgado said the department is gaining new Twitter and Facebook followers. There were 1,260 Twitter followers and 3,530 Facebook followers as of May 3 with nearly 4,000 “likes.” Seniors have asked about getting on Twitter, but he said it was easier to get on Facebook. Both will remain active in the Des Moines Police Department, he said.

“We are very excited about it. It is really bringing us in contact with the community – lot of Facebook rookies, Twitter rookies so we are going to do some great things with it,” the chief said. “What they are hearing about the community is that Des Moines is changing, not just as a department but as a city, so we are excited about that,” Delgado said.

Brandon Carver, city public works director, said they have signed an agreement with the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) for the design and permitting of the Barnes Creek, Kent-Des Moines culvert replacement.

The city also awarded the South 223rd Street “pavement rehabilitation” and utility upgrade project which should start construction in the week of May 21 and is slated to be finished this summer. Road closures will not be immediate, Carver said, and electronic sign boards and other methods will be used to keep residents, school and others informed.



Comments

6 Responses to “Marina paid parking fears have not materialized despite ‘overwhelming number’ of vehicles”
  1. JC Harris says:

    Two quick points:

    The City Manager reported the pluses, but not the big minuses that always bothered the public.
    1. First off: Actual revenues? All this cost -and- aggravation for only a hundred and thirty grand a -year-? That’s a drop in the bucket next to what is needed to fix the sea wall. It’s a total loser in terms of cost/benefit.

    2. Even if it does no harm (and that seemed to be the point of the CM’s report, at the end of the day, the whole system causes a ton of aggravation.

    If the city wants to build a great Downtown and Marina, it should do it the way other cities do it: by attracting great small businesses and then making it EASY for visitors to park and bop around.

    Paid parking, in contrast, is stingy. It may bring in small amounts of money, but it also generates just enough friction to encourage people to stay away.

    • Marty says:

      excellent point JC. This “report” is ridiculously bias. $100k a year is NOTHING compared to the $12 million to fix the seawall.

  2. Chris Clevish says:

    This report doesn’t take into account the capital cost to implement paid parking to being with. I tried to find it on the city’s website but couldn’t but recall the implementation cost was near $500,000. Again, this was off the top of my head so I would love to know what the total cost was/is since they are still working on it.

  3. desmoines resident says:

    What everyine is missing id NET revenue was only 32,000.00. This venture stull makes Des Moines tripping over dollars to pick up nickels. If you want to keep after hour loiterers out, fine use the gate forthat, but during the day, its a loser. Just wait and see how mant markwt vendors find other venues.

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