Springfield commissioners to vote on using parking management company in downtown

Springfield City Commissioners will be asked today to approve a one-year renewable parking management agreement as part of a larger plan to better coordinate parking in the downtown.

If passed, the city will enter into an agreement with the company Republic Parking System, LLC to provide downtown parking management services for a period of one year to not exceed $610,490. As part of the agreement the city will be able to renew its contract with the company for six additional one-year periods.

“Not all of that money is operating costs,” said Paul Hicks, the emergency services manager for the city of Springfield.

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“It is safe to assume that going forward that the costs will be less,” Hicks said if the city decided to renew the contract in the future.

The Springfield City Commission will hold a special legislative meeting today at 10 a.m. in place of its regularly scheduled evening session. Regular City Commission meetings have been temporarily suspended due to a mayoral proclamation and executive order issued last week.

In-person public participation is prohibited due to coronavirus concerns, but the meeting will be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page and broadcast on local Channel 5.

If the parking agreement is approved today, Republic —which is part of the Chattanooga-based Reef Parking network— would be charging $30,000 for the first year as a management fee. That fee would increase by $3,000 each year.

However, additional costs are dependent on what actions the city takes in terms of implementing paid parking in the downtown area.

That could include adding paid meters to on-street parking spots and converting city parking lots into paid ones. It also means determining what spots would be free for a limited amount of time and for how long.

The idea is to make sure that paid parking would not become a hindrance on local businesses as well as to better accommodate those who are going into a business to get a cup of coffee or planing on patronizing a downtown establishment for a short period of time.

“We want to bring public parking lots, parking garages as well as the on street spaces into continuity and coordinated in a manner that all works together,” Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck previously told the News-Sun.

He said that street parking is usually meant for shorter trips whereas parking lots and garages are designed for more long term stays. The city is currently constructing a three-story public parking garage that is expected to be completed soon.

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Until recently, it was slated to open by the end of April. However, Hicks said he does not know if that will still be the case due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, the city has changed its focus to make sure preventive measures are being taken in regards to combating the spread of coronavirus. However, Hicks said it is important to have other things in place, such as the parking agreement, for when the city returns back to normal operating procedures.

Jack Skelton —with Reef Parking, which works with 120 municipalities in North America— previously told the News-Sun that his company would be working with the city to determine what areas in the downtown area would have paid parking as well as managing those services. That would include the parking garage as well, which will have paid parking rates.

In addition, his company would also conduct a parking analysis in the downtown area and would talk with local business owners as well as other stakeholders.

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Skelton said his company would also provide services regarding what type of parking meters would be used as well as implementing a mobile app that allows those using paid parking spots to extend their time and make payments to meters, with the proceeds going back to the city.

The original agreement that was introduced to city commissioners earlier this year would have had the city enter into a five year commitment with Republic. Hicks said that the city would have had the option to cancel the agreement during the five year period as long as the city provided a 90 day notice.

However, some commissioners felt uneasy in regards to entering into the five year contract. As a result, Republic agreed to a one-year agreement with the renewable option, Hicks said.

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