Government Officials Count On Finding Relief Valve For Parking Pressures

By Jeff Neumeyer

July 20, 2011 Updated Jul 20, 2011 at 6:17 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Two government properties, two different kinds of parking challenges in downtown Fort Wayne.

Officials hold out hope both issues will clear up over time.

Citizens Square is the new home to many city and county offices.

Patrice Kumaran came down on Wednesday to do some business, but found no available parking spots.

She eventually wound up in a parking garage next door.

Patrice Kumaran/Citizens Square Visitor: " I'm on a deadline of getting these papers filed, they could make it a little more convenient."

Half the building's front lot is currently off limits to parking, torn up as crews reconfigure the lot to add spaces and make underground storm sewer upgrades. The improved lot will be made of permeable material, so rainwater can soak through and reduce overflows into the city’s rivers following storms.

Mary Jane Slaton/City Utilities: " We'll be taking about 140,000 gallons out of our combined sewer system every year."

City and county employees who work in the building are using a handful of private parking lots nearby.

County government is subsidizing the expense of parking for its workers for at least one year.

County officials say some money was freed up to do that, because the county paid off its part of a large bond that funded construction of the City-County Building Parking Garage downtown.

City government workers are paying up to $65.00 a month to park in paid lots near Citizens Square.

Pat Roller/City Controller: " In these times when resources are limited, employees know that they have to pay their fair share."

Neumeyer: " It’s a busy parking situation at Citizens Square, but it’s a different story in the City-County Building parking garage. Because so many offices have moved out of the City-County Building, traffic is way down in the garage.”

County Commissioner Nelson Peters estimates the garage has barely half the paying customers that it used to.

But renovations are underway to turn the C.C.B. into a joint public safety headquarters that Peters believes will bring the parking patrons back, and then some.

Nelson Peters/(R) Allen County Commissioner: " The city will benefit as well, parking will pick up from where it is right now. Because we do share that income, they will share in the wealth as well."

The police and fire headquarters should be ready to open in the spring.

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