Michigan firm recommended for downtown parking study

After planning for a downtown parking study for months, Fort Dodge officials are getting ready to hire a firm to do the work.

The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District board recommended on Tuesday that Rich and Associates Inc., of Southfield, Mich., be hired to conduct the study at a maximum cost of $30,726.

That recommendation now goes to the City Council.

”Their attitude and the principles that they operate by fit very well with our community,” Police Chief Tim Carmody said of the company. He was one of the officials who studied proposals made by consulting firms interested in doing the study.

The city received three proposals. A panel of city staffers interviewed representatives of two of those firms and recommended Rich and Associates Inc. as the best choice.

That company’s staff seems to understand the scope of the Fort Dodge project very well, according to Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner. She added that the firm’s representatives will visit Fort Dodge five times during the study.

”No other company was talking about spending that amount of time here,” she told the district’s board.

If Rich and Associates Inc. is hired by the City Council, it will be charged with:

– Analyzing data provided by the city.

– Quantifying parking needs.

– Describing patterns of use and characteristics of the parking system.

– Assessing the need for a parking ramp.

The study will be completed by September, according to Houk Sheetz.

The money to pay for it will come from the district and revenue from parking meters and the sale of parking permits.

Late last year, Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District leaders identified downtown parking needs as a top priority. Houk Sheetz had started collecting parking data last year, but the district board opted to pursue hiring a consultant in order to get the work done faster.

In other business, the board learned that the city’s Historic Preservation Commission wants to use plaques to mark historic downtown buildings.

Pam Sanders, the commission’s chairwoman, said the project would begin by placing plaques on buildings that are already on the National Register of Historic Places. The plaque project could then expand to include other buildings, and commission members are contemplating ways to mark the locations of significant buildings that no longer exist.

”We have to tell our story,” Sanders said. ”Otherwise, nobody knows.”

Details of the project are still being worked out.

The Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is a roughly 33 block area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there.