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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Excited About Parking

I never would have guessed that parking could be exciting.  Having volunteered last year with the City's effort to restructure how we deal with parking, I find myself fascinated with how parking is handled by cities and parking management companies across the country.  We have begun an entire restructure of how the City deals with parking. 

We have started by changing the structure of the City's Parking Commission, giving them more authority to make changes to parking and increase responsiveness to business and community needs. Commissioners are chosen by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. 

Also, for different parking needs you have to go to several different City departments, so to improve efficiency and customer service we're moving all parking operations to be under one umbrella.  We've consolidated several jobs and have created a parking manager position to oversee all aspects of parking.  We have conducted interviews and heard from some very qualified people.  Several of them live, breath and eat parking (and are amazingly enthusiastic about it!).  I learned more from interviewing them and hearing their perspective on parking than I ever could have imagined.  We hope to have the parking manager in place in March.
Additionally, they City is going to contract with a professional parking company to manage our ramps and surface lots.  I have read prospective company's proposals and we have been interviewing the finalists.  I am amazed at what these companies offer - their marketing ideas are incredible.  They have talked about taking money sucking ramps and parking lots and turning them around into revenue generating machines along with improving customer service.  The City has missed the mark in many aspects of ramp management and marketing-it is no fault of anyone, it just is not our specialty.  We need to get out of the ramp management business and leave it to the experts.  There is no doubt in my mind that between having a professional company manage the ramps and surface lots, consolidation of operations into a parking department and having a true parking manager Duluth is poised for success.  We are all going to look back after this change and wonder why it took so long to make these changes.  I am truly excited about the future of parking in Duluth!

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