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Packard Avenue may be widened this summer

Angled or parallel parking would be added along stretch

March 17, 2009

The stretch of Packard Avenue along the triangle could undergo construction this summer for the third consecutive year.

City Engineer Melinda Dejewski said crews may widen the street and install between 70 and 100 parking stalls along Packard Avenue from Howard Avenue to Lake Drive, which faces 13 acres owned by The Mandel Group.

But in order for the project to move forward this summer, the Common Council must quickly give its OK, Dejewski said.

A joint meeting of the Planning Commission, Board of Public Works and Community Development Authority will be set later this month to determine which type of parking, either angled or parallel, should be installed.

Type of parking debated

Last year, city officials discussed installing angled or parallel parking along Packard Avenue.

The project was put on hold because it was unknown which type of parking The Mandel Group preferred and because one of the parking options would require the city to acquire land from the company to create a right of way for traffic, Dejewski said.

Construction occurred at the intersections of Packard Avenue and Lake Drive and Packard and Sivyer avenues in 2007.

There also was work along Packard in 2008.

The Mandel Group's chief operating officer, Bob Monnat, said his firm plans to build a 699-stall parking lot on his property, which would satisfy the needs of customers coming to his site, so additional parking along Packard Avenue would be unnecessary for his development.

Big plans for triangle

The Mandel Group's Web site shows a development called Lakeside Market Square, which would house a grocery store, retail space and two restaurants.

Mayor Al Richards said Monnat has not yet presented a site plan to city officials, so it could be awhile before anything is developed on the site.

"Until someone brings it in, there's no plan," Richards said.

Monnat said the city should use the money allocated for parking for streetscaping and other improvements to enhance the aesthetics of the area.

"We would like to see parking along (Packard Avenue) kept the way it is," he said. "We think there will be sufficient parking in that area."

Depending on which parking option is chosen, the total cost of the project, which includes installing curb, gutter and sidewalk, is estimated at between $250,000 and $350,000.

Dejewski said tax-incremental financing funds would be used.

The city may receive some federal stimulus money to invest in streetscaping, but an amount is unknown at this time, she said.

Cheaper plan available

Craig Ellsworth, landlord of Carleton Grange Pub and a former CDA member, said the extensive design options for Packard Avenue presented by the city and its consultants are too expensive.

"It is not the right time, and it is misleading to portray them as being financially feasible," he said.

He said a more cost-effective plan, which works with the existing street and uses striping to define angled parking spaces on the east and west sides, can be done "literally overnight."

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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