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Mayor urges action on parking ramp
bill ross
Bill Ross
MONROE - Monroe Mayor Bill Ross has issued a memo to members of the city council instructing them to make a decision on the future of the municipal parking ramp downtown.

In his letter to the aldermen, Ross voiced his concern over the safety of the structure. He urged members of the council to vote on one specific plan - a flat 72-space lot - proposed after a downtown parking study conducted by Rich and Associates Inc. indicated sufficient parking is currently available for average traffic whether or not the 169 spaces in the ramp are available. Ross did not dictate whether or not he prefers the option but specified that steps need to be taken to ensure five years of deliberation and the study is put to use.

"After the report came back there really wasn't any action taken," Ross said. "If we don't do something at the minimum, it's a safety hazard. It's been frustrating that we haven't been able to take action. I'm just trying to keep the discussion going."

Ross indicated page 61 of the study in his memo to council members, which suggests a flat 72-space lot could be placed on the site. The mayor asked city staff to create a resolution for the March 15 meeting. In the draft, it outlines the flat lot as a viable option. Adlermen will be asked to vote for approval or decline the plan. If they vote no, they will move on to another plan. If it is approved, the city will take the next step to knock down the current ramp and build the lot in its place. Either way, Ross acknowledged that a decision will keep plans moving forward.

"I don't know what the best option is," Ross said. "If they vote down the surface lot, then we know that option is off the table."

Ross referenced an estimate of $395,000 by Arnold & O'Sheridan, an engineering consulting firm which studied the cost of tearing down the current ramp. Rich and Associates estimated the cost of building a new surface ramp at $180,000 to $216,000. The project, estimated at a total of more than $600,000, should be decided on in order to be financially responsible, Ross said.

"We have to figure out how we're going to fund all of this," Ross said.

Other options recommended by the study include a new ramp of 169 parking spaces and a new parking ramp accommodating 212 spaces. The study indicated that 72 spaces would be sufficient, though would not accommodate special event parking. A new ramp with less than 200 spaces is estimated between $3 million to $4 million and would take care of partial spacing issues during special events.

A new ramp at 212 spots was estimated between $4 million to $5 million. The ramp would be the same size as the current one and was recommended as the best option to make sure there will always be adequate parking in the downtown area.

A two-level parking ramp with the option to build another level is the ideal for Ross. He said he was hopeful for that plan two years ago but that not much has taken place since for any plan, and it has been frustrating. Ross said he especially hopes to have plans move forward after hearing a number of concerns from city residents regarding the safety of the structure.