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Parking plan closer to reality

Fargo's downtown residential parking permit program could be up and running within the next two months. For downtown residential property managers such as Bev Wilson, it's an addition that can't come soon enough. "The concept is w...

Fargo's downtown residential parking permit program could be up and running within the next two months.

For downtown residential property managers such as Bev Wilson, it's an addition that can't come soon enough.

"The concept is wonderful," Wilson said. "It's just a really good idea."

Wilson was one of about a dozen property managers and downtown residents attending one of the city's two public meetings Tuesday regarding the newly proposed residential parking permit program.

The input gathered at the meetings will help put in place the details of the program, which will go before the Fargo Parking Commission Thursday.

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"Most of what I've heard from people has been in support of the program," said Bob Stein, a Fargo senior planner. "I've gotten a strong enough feeling that I think this will happen."

The Parking Commission must OK the program before passing it on to the City Commission for final approval. The city attorney also must review the plan because it might require an ordinance change.

The cost for each permit will be $25 per month and will be distributed through the Fargo Planning Department.

The idea is that downtown dwellers will have designated areas within specific zones where they can park for extended periods of time both during the day and at night. It will be a mix of on- and off-street parking.

The permit program is especially good for people who need parking during the day because of a night or swing shift, and for students who are at home periodically throughout the day, Stein said.

There will be an increasing number of these people downtown once North Dakota State University revamps and opens the former Northern School Supply building as a campus building, he said.

For these people, parking will be available for up to 36 hours at a time.

"You won't be guaranteed a parking space but, once you get one, you won't have to run out and move your car every 90 minutes," Stein said.

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Downtown resident Shawn Ramsholm, who attended Tuesday's evening meeting, said night-time parking is his biggest complaint with the city.

"Night parking is atrocious around here, especially if you don't get home until nine or 10 o'clock," Ramsholm said. "This time of year, with the snow, is especially tough."

Although Ramsholm said he doesn't always mind having to walk a few blocks to get to his car, he sees others with children and the elderly who struggle.

"It's tough because I look and see the Court House parking lot empty," he said. "I understand that's not a public lot, but it would be good if spaces like that could be utilized, too."

For people wanting to park overnight, city lots and ramps will be available to permit holders. This will alleviate the hassle of rotating street and avenue parking for snow removal, Stein said.

However, people who park in off-street city spaces will have to move their vehicles by 8 a.m. because other downtown lot renters, most of whom work in downtown Fargo, will be coming to work around that time.

Most city-owned lots rent for about $50 per month.

Permit holders will have to be diligent about moving their vehicles if they choose to park in city lots or ramps, Stein said.

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"Occasionally someone might be sick or for some reason can't get to their car by that time," he said. "That's something we'll have to figure out. It will be a rare situation though, as long as people play by the rules."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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