New Test Meters

Parking meters in the 200 block of Main Street are shown on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, shortly after their installation. Racine Alderman Steve Smetana has proposed that the city eliminate its parking meters but the proposal has faced prolonged delays.

RACINE — The City Council is scheduled to discuss a proposal to remove the city’s parking meters that was proposed over a year ago and has been on hold for over six months.

On Tuesday, the Committee of the Whole is scheduled to discuss 5th District Alderman Steve Smetana’s proposal for removing all parking meters throughout Racine.

The Committee of the Whole, a subcommittee of the City Council, does not normally include a public hearing, but one has been added to the agenda so the council can hear the general public’s thoughts on the proposal.

Why now?

Smetana first submitted the proposal in November 2017, stating that he thought the move would make the city more welcoming. The last time the issue was on a the council agenda was in July.

The city’s Transit and Parking Commission discussed the idea in February 2018 before referring the conversation to the Committee of the Whole.

The City Council in March voted to schedule the discussion within 30 days, but Mayor Cory Mason vetoed the timing. Mason stated that the veto was based on both a scheduling conflict and the fact that meeting agendas are the purview of a body’s chairman.

Council President Jason Meekma said it’s been challenging to fit the parking meter discussion into the council’s schedule.

“I have been working on finding a time where we can honor this discussion in the manner (Smetana) wants to see it addressed, while at the same time trying to juggle all the other requests and conflicts,” Meekma wrote in an email. “ The second part is allowing the city staff the time to gather information and even now there is work to be done.”

Meekma said that while many council members recognize that citizens would happily get rid of the meters, they do provide income to the city. And without them, the city would need a system for designating long-term parking spaces for Downtown residents and short-term parking for customers.

“There is a lot to consider and that has played a part in the delay of getting to this item,” wrote Meekma. “I wish we could have gotten to this sooner, for the sake of the discussion and out of respect for (Smetana).”

Meekma said that city staff is now better prepared to discuss the issue and the council hopes to hear from the general public.

“Hopefully, this will all lead to a solid discussion on this issue,” Meekma wrote.

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Christina Lieffring covers the City of Racine and the City of Burlington and is a not-bad photographer. In her spare time she tries to keep her plants and guinea pigs alive and happy.

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