Parking meters feed discontent at UWW

By JAMES KATES, Capstone Managing Editor

     An attempt to provide more parking for UW-Whitewater students, faculty and staff is not pleasing everyone, members of the Whitewater Common Council were told Tuesday.

     Councilwoman Stephanie Abbott said some at UWW were disappointed to see Prince and Prairie streets fill up with parking meters after the approval of a memo of understanding between the university and the city.

     “I was surprised to see both streets completely lined with parking meters and not a single permit parking spot,” said Abbott, who is also a UWW student.

     Approved by the council in June, the 10-year agreement provides for the leasing of 122 city parking spaces to the university for $40,000 a year, set to rise to $45,000 a year in 2017.

     The university removed meters from campus lots and reinstalled them on the streets. Parking on Prairie Street is $1 an hour. Parking on Prince Street is 25 cents an hour.

     UWW officials say the move has created more overall parking for university employees and students. Interim City Manager Cameron Clapper told the council that removal of parking meters on campus had created 147 more stalls for permit parking.

     Abbott said the new metered spaces on the street often were empty, and that student parkers were being pushed into the Starin Park neighborhood.

     The metered spots on Prince and Prairie streets formerly offered free parking, which filled up early in the morning.

     City Attorney Wallace McDonell promised to look into Abbott’s complaint that parking meters at 164 N. Prairie St. may violate an ordinance designating the address as a no-parking zone.

     After the meeting, Abbott said that “the university is now the decision-maker on this issue” and that she did not anticipate further action on the city’s memo.

     In other action Tuesday:

     • Karen Coburn, a member of the city’s Planning & Architectural Review Commission, spoke during the public comment session to invite citizens to an educational forum about the emerald ash borer.

       The insect, which has been found within 20 miles of Whitewater, can kill ash trees by tunneling under their bark. Ash trees are common in cities, including Whitewater.

      Speakers at the forum will tell homeowners and woodlot owners how to protect their trees from the invasive beetle.

      The forum will be held Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Timmerman Auditorium at Hyland Hall on the UW-Whitewater campus.

      • Matt Amundson, the city parks and recreation director, warned council members that air-conditioning units atop the Municipal Building had reached their estimated 15-year lifespan and would soon need replacing.

      Coils on the units may have been damaged by improper power-washing, he said. A consultant to the city has recommended replacement of the units rather than ongoing repairs.

      • The council approved fire and rescue contracts under which city crews respond to emergencies in towns surrounding the city.

City manager forums set

     Meanwhile, the public is invited to meet the five finalists for the city manager position this Friday.

     A public reception will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Whitewater Innovation Center, 1221 Innovation Drive. At 6:30, a public forum will be held in the Whitewater Municipal Building’s Community Room. The public is invited to submit questions for the forum, which will be carried live on the city’s cable TV channel.

     Besides Clapper, the finalists are Edward Gil de Rubio, former city manager in Trinidad, Colo.; Richard Johnston, town administrator/clerk at Clayton in Winnebago County; Jeff Kooistra, former city administrator/clerk in Waukee, Iowa; and Paul Moderacki, village administrator in Mukwonago.

     The candidate chosen will replace Kevin Brunner, who resigned in July to become central services director/highway commissioner for Walworth County.

     The council hopes to choose the new city manager on Saturday after a final round of interviews.