Parking study begins in FD

Consultants conducting a study of parking conditions in downtown Fort Dodge will visit the city early next month.

Members of the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District board were updated on the study Tuesday.

Last year, board members identified parking as a top priority they wished to address. In an effort to get a parking analysis done quickly, they recommended hiring a consultant and agreed to help pay for the work.

Rich and Associates Inc., of Southfield, Mich., was hired by the City Council last month to conduct the parking study at a cost of $30,726.

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

”I’ve been busy giving them a lot of different data,” Stephanie Houk Sheetz, the senior city planner, told the board Tuesday.

She said representatives of the firm will come to Fort Dodge during the week of June 9. She said they will conduct some meetings and attend a joint session with the district’s board and the City Council on June 11.

The parking study is to be completed by September.

In other business, board members agreed to consider contributing some money to help pay for landscape improvements around a parking lot at Central Avenue and Sixth Street.

”I’m all for sprucing it up and adding some color,” said board member Cheryl O’Hern.

Houk Sheetz said the district has $750 left in its current budget that could be spent on landscaping work.

Although it’s only May, the board also weighed in on the strategy for hanging Christmas lights and decorations this year.

For the past few years, the newest lights and decorations have been placed along Central Avenue, with older ones placed on First Avenue North and First Avenue South. Last year, problems with those older lights were observed.

”Even though we went to the expense of buying replacement bulbs, it seemed like a fair amount weren’t functioning at all” Houk Sheetz said.

She said $300 to $400 was spent on replacement bulbs last year.

Board members indicated Tuesday that they’re in favor of putting up only the lights on Central Avenue this year. The possibility of placing lights on First Avenue North and First Avenue South could be considered next year or in 2016, they said.

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