McHenry City Council approves $64,440 budget amendment for parking improvement plan

Parking signs direct visitors to a McHenry parking lot[]

McHENRY – McHenry City Council members approved a budget amendment that will allow McHenry to spend up to $64,440 toward its downtown parking improvement plan.

City officials have been in talks to increase and improve parking in McHenry’s three downtown areas in recent months after hearing business owners’ and residents’ complaints. Proposed projects include things such as enhancing lighting in existing lots, improving or expanding some lots and demolishing city-owned buildings to construct a new lot.

The projects focus on three downtown areas: Riverside Drive, Green Street and Main Street. City officials have organized proposed projects into three tiers. The budget amendment will allow for design and engineering services on the first-phase projects.

The city will pay consulting company Baxter and Woodman Inc. to complete the design engineer plans. The company had already been in the process of engineering the parking lot expansion at McHenry’s recreation center, according to city documents.

The city wants to expedite the process in order to have a cost estimate to plan for capital improvements in the upcoming budget.

Several aldermen including Ward 1 Alderman Victor Santi and Ward 4 Alderman Scott Curry said that they would have preferred to see competitive bidding on the project.

Santi said he did want to move forward as parking issues have been a problem for years.

“We have finally brought this to our level. It’s taken much too much time to get it where it’s at right now,” Santi said. “I do want competitive bids, but I think this is something I have wanted, have seen and discussed for 20 years in town at least.”

Specific improvements related to the parking project will come before City Council in the future.

“While the tier one design engineering is a first step in implementing many of the tier two projects, it does not commit the city to undertaking any of the projects in fiscal 2018-19,” City Administer Derik Morefield wrote in a memo to council. “It could be used at some later point to undertake projects so long as project conditions do not substantially change.”

City Council approved the project with Curry and Ward 5 Alderman Chad Mihevc against.