Comment sought on downtown Brainerd parking recommendations

The Brainerd City Council is seeking public input on the parking commission’s recommendations regarding parking in and around the downtown area.

Those wishing to address the council on the following recommendations can do so at the next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6:

  • Increase the rates for leased lots to a level commensurate with what the private sector may offer and increase rates by 5% each year to adjust with inflation.

  • Implement parking meters between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., with the first 15 minutes free, along Laurel Street between South Sixth and Eighth streets and along South Seventh Street between Front and Maple streets.

  • Designate 90% of the net revenue generated by downtown parking meters and leased spaces for downtown programs and improvements and transfer these funds to the Economic Development Authority for implementation.

  • Update downtown kiosks in a manner that matches the aesthetics of the downtown and implement wayfinding in and around the downtown area to guide visitors and residents to the various amenities.

  • Update the city’s ordinances to require property owners in and around the downtown to identify off-street areas where their tenants (commercial and residential) will park.

  • Charge the EDA with the task of developing a marketing strategy and list the Front Street lot, Laurel Street lot, and city hall lot for redevelopment.

  • Continue to take steps to make areas in and around downtown a much more pedestrian friendly place, including improvements such as alley lighting and aesthetic improvements, additional benches, picnic tables, bike racks, designated bike lanes and green spaces.

  • Implement a targeted informational and educational campaign to inform and educate the property owners, business owners, residential tenants and patrons in and around the downtown area of any recommendations the city council chooses to implement to ensure communication between the city and property owners.

Those who are not able to attend the council meeting Dec. 6 can submit written comments to Community Development Director David Chanski at [email protected].

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Formed last December and tasked with developing recommendations to resolve parking-related concerns downtown, the city’s parking commission members have talked with business owners,

gathered community input and studied parking costs and availability.

The city leases four parking lots downtown:

  • The Burlington Northern lot off Front Street behind the old Crow Wing Food Co-op,

  • The alley along the north side of Shep’s on 6th and El Potro’s,

  • The city hall lot on Laurel Street adjacent to Brainerd City Hall, and

  • The Maple Street lot between the Brainerd Public Library and the Brainerd Post Office.

The Burlington Northern lot annually operates at a deficit and is ultimately subsidized by the other three. While raising just the rates of the Burlington lot would cover its cost, the parking commission believes raising all the rates would put them closer to what the private sector may charge for parking.

Right now, parking spots in the Burlington Northern lot cost $20 or $25 a month, depending on location, while the Maple Street lot costs $15 and other two cost $35. The parking commission proposed raising the rates to $45 and $55 for the Burlington Northern lot, $25 for the Maple Street lot and $50 for the other two, along with a yearly 5% increase to keep up with inflation and ensure the parking lot fund is self-sufficient.

Revenue changes for the price increases would be as follows:

  • Burlington Northern lot — increase from an annual deficit of $15,732 to a net gain of $2,734.

  • Alley — increase from $5,239 to $11,652 in revenue.

  • City hall — increase from $3,394 to $4,996 in revenue.

  • Maple Street — increase from $8,095 to $14,983 in revenue.

The city’s personnel and finance committee will discuss the financial implications of the recommendations, and the council will decide which — if any — suggestions to move forward with after hearing from the public.

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