TRAVERSE CITY — Two separate projects that will both positively and negatively affect the city's parking fund will highlight city commissioners' meeting tonight.
Members of the Downtown Development Authority board recommended a fee increase for permit holders at the city's surface parking lots and two decks to help close a gap between parking deck revenue and the cost to operate the facilities.
The proposal would boost a monthly permit by $5 and annual permits $20 effective Jan. 1. Fees for special event parking at the two decks would jump from $3 or $4 per event to $6.
"People may not like the rates right now, but they are relatively modest compared to other communities," said Mayor Michael Estes. "It's very financially attractive for people to park here."
Rob Bacigalupi, the DDA's acting director, said during a Nov. 15 DDA meeting that a parking deck space earns on average $517 a year but costs $825 to operate. Parking at both decks was up in 2012 compared to prior years, with a 6 percent increase at the Hardy Deck while the Old Town Deck saw usage jump 13 percent.
It's the first permit fee increase in three years, Bacigalupi said.
Commissioners also will consider tapping the parking fund to provide a local match for a $400,000 project to reconstruct the boat ramp on the Boardman River adjacent to the Grandview Parkway bridge over the river.
The previous commission approved the same project a year ago, but had to delay it when a state grant was redirected toward emergency harbor and channel dredging because of low water levels in the Great Lakes.
The project will widen the turn-around area, replace the ramp, and add a small canoe and kayak launching dock at the end of the city’s northern boardwalk on the river. The city will repave the lot and install rain gardens and porous pavers to prevent erosion from storm water.
Private and public grants will make up about $286,000 of the cost with the balance to come from the parking fund.
Estes said he doesn't expect any opposition, though the items are part of the Bayfront redevelopment process. Some commissioners have called for a delay in any new Bayfront projects while they re-evaluate the overall plan.
"We've been talking about this project forever," Estes said. "And we are not creating anything new. We are taking an existing structure and improving it."
Tonight's commission meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Governmental Center.