DIXON – Downtown Dixon will get more parking.
During a public hearing to discuss the south side of First Street, between Hennepin Avenue and Galena Avenue, the Dixon City Council favored diagonal parking spaces to parallel or a hybrid of parallel and diagonal.
The change, which will come as part of the downtown streetscape project, will increase the number of parking spaces on that block from 10 to 19, with one space designated for handicap parking.
The diagonal parking will reduce the sidewalk to about 5 feet wide, which is the width of the majority of the city's residential sidewalks, said Commissioner Jeff Kuhn.
During the special meeting and public hearing Monday night, the City Council also awarded the contract for the streetscape work to Fischer Excavating Inc., for $5,776,273, a portion of which will be paid for by KSB Hospital for work to a parking lot off Ottawa Avenue.
Fischer Excavating was the lowest bidder, Kuhn said.
The decision to increase the available parking came at the urging of the downtown businesses.
Mike Venier, of Venier Jewelers, said a lack of downtown parking spaces is the No. 1 complaint of customers, and has been for a long time.
"With the upcoming downtown streetscape project, we have a rare opportunity to add premium parking onto First Street and genuinely address this long-term concern," he said.
All parallel parking would have meant 10 spaces, a hybrid 13, and diagonal 19. All the options included one handicap parking space.
All diagonal was also the cheapest, an estimated $162,300, according to Jeff Reis, of Willett Hofmann & Associates Inc., one of the two engineering firms working on the streetscape project.
Mayor Jim Burke was the most vocal City Council member in favor of the all parallel parking option, emphasizing the greenspace and aesthetics that would be lost with diagonal parking.
Burke also said that the perceived lack of parking downtown was a non-issue.
"There is no problem," Burke said. "The problem is that people want to find a parking space right in front of their destination. That is the problem. There is no parking problem."
Burke referred to a Dixon Main Street study that, he said, showed that there was ample downtown parking available, adding that the KSB Hospital lots at Town Centre are available at night.
Other business representatives speaking out in favor of the added parking spaces were Li Arellano, who owns the Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches location in Dixon, and Jeffrey Lovett, of Midland States Bank.
Earlier this month, Arellano told Sauk Valley Media he was considering running for Dixon mayor in 2015.
Commissioner Colleen Brechon, who was against the diagonal parking, said that Dixon has plenty of downtown parking, but it isn't always convenient.
The Dixon City Council next meets at 8 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 121 W. Second St., on the second floor in the Council Chambers for a special meeting to vote on the 2014-15 fiscal year budget.
Go to www.DiscoverDixon.org or call City Hall at 815-288-1485 for an agenda or more information.