Parking in downtown Chicago has never been a walk in the park, but now it won't be in the park, either.
As the city continues to box its way out of a huge parking meter privitization mess with the announcement of the installation of parking boxes in lieu of meters by the year's end, it looks like the Chicago Park District wants to get into the game.
The Chicago Tribune reported Saturday that free parking along the lakefront will no longer be free by the time Fall rolls around.
And Mayor Daley said that he supports the Park District proposal to start "charging $1 an hour to leave your car at any of the more than 4,400 spots along the lake that until now cost nothing. Another 537 metered parking spots will see rates double or quadruple,"
the paper reported.
Daley said the new parking fees are about "revenue and things like that," according to Sunday's Trib posting.
Referring to the plan as "the latest money grab by City Hall" (since the mayor appoints the Park District board), the paper says the move is sure to anger any number of facets of Chicago area drivers.
Paid parking along the lake will take away one of the city's favorite options for free family fun, while making area residents in lakefront highrises steam over lost parking options for them.
The Park District defends its decision by saying that it'll take in about $700,000 in the first year, which will help the district avoid cutting services and laying off workers.
"People are welcomed and encouraged to take public transportation if they find they don't want to pay parking fees," said Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, Park District spokeswoman. Was there a snip in that comment?
The Tribune details how the pie will be sliced and shared between the Park District, the city and the private firm, Standard Parking.
But no matter how you slice it, the cost trickles down to the drivers; local citizens who are paying the country's highest gas prices and sales tax, as they try to enjoy the city's lakefront.