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Potential parking changes to Janesville’s West Milwaukee St. have businesses concerned

Proposed parking changes in downtown Janesville have business owners concerned.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:25 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Proposed parking changes in downtown Janesville have business owners concerned. The City of Janesville is proposing stalls in the heart of downtown on West Milwaukee Street switch from angled to parallel out of concern for safety.

Since the city completed the West Milwaukee Street Reconstruction Project, which included the addition of new angled parking spots on the street’s south side, Janesville has received concerns from the public.

“We are concerned about the number of accidents that could happen between now and when those changes are made,” said Woodard.

But switching to parallel parking means decreasing the number of existing stalls on the south side of the street by 40%, worrying storekeepers who struggled to make it through COVID and the long construction project to begin with.

“We already don’t have enough parking down here,” said Kelsi Getty, manager of 808 Cheesecake on West Milwaukee St. “Theres really not a lot of lots or a ton of street parking and for them to take away stalls throughout West Milwaukee Street that’s a huge percentage of our parking and if people can’t easily park, they aren’t going to shop.”

Getty says 808 Cheesecake and other businesses along the street were alerted to the change in an email the last week of November. The city also posted this press release, stating work to implement this change would begin the week of Dec. 6. On Dec. 2, the city updated the release, saying they decided to “pause” the proposed changes, and would meet with the Downtown Business Improvement district “to further discuss the proposed changes.”

BID Chair Bekki Kennedy said BID and DJI are aligned in their stance against the removal of parking spots.

“We want a safe downtown and feel that there is a way to accomplish this without removing 40% of the parking on these blocks,” said Kennedy in a statement. “The current proposal we believe may make matters worse. Speed is the biggest safety concern of local stakeholders.”

But both groups hope for a productive meeting with the city.

“This outcome will be a demonstration of the city’s commitment towards a true collaborative partnership,” the statement read.

The ARISE NOW group partners, which includes DJI and BID, were made aware of the West Milwaukee St parking change on...

Posted by Downtown Janesville, Inc. on Friday, December 3, 2021

Woodard is confident the changes will move forward. He expects to begin work the week of Dec. 13, weather permitting. Otherwise, the city will have to wait until the spring, but he worries accidents could occur in the meantime.

“There is still plenty of parking on the west side of Downtown Janesville,” said Woodard. “We do a study every year of the parking capacity and availability and it’s still around 40% occupied so there’s still plenty of spaces. They are not always right in front of the stores people want to go to but there is plenty of parking on the west side.”

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