Park it!
Town Center parking study sparks ideas, debate

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

August 10, 2017

MEQUON — A comprehensive parking and traffic study commissioned by the city of Mequon came to one conclusion that should come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to park in the Mequon Town Center at peak times: “It is clear that there is not enough parking supply provided” is the first sentence in the summary of the 110-page-long report compiled by Cedarburg-based Traffic Analysis and Design Inc.

Town Center parking has been an ongoing discussion topic by the Mequon Common Council all year, but Tuesday’s Common Council meeting afforded aldermen their first opportunity to discuss the final report, completed at a cost of $58,238.

TADI provided details and raw numbers of how different uses of the Town Center and activities in nearby City Hall, the swimming pool, baseball field and library impact parking needs.

While Tuesday’s presentation was intended to be an overview – laying the groundwork for concrete steps to be proposed in September – the report generated well over two hours of discussion from aldermen, a restaurant developer, the adjacent American Legion Post and members of the public.

The report makes a variety of recommendations. City staff will review them with an eye toward introducing proposals for the Common Council to discuss at its Sept. 12 meeting.

The report said:

There is not enough parking to accommodate the proposed Backwoods Pub & Grill. Developer John Leszcynski wants to use a portion of the now-closed Logemann Center for the restaurant.

The Logemann Center should be razed and the space and the parking lots adjacent to City Hall should be reconfigured to provide 30 to 59 more parking spaces.

Another option would be installing a road from the Logemann lot, paralleling the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, to Division Street as a way to encourage traffic circulation to the north.

A small parking ramp – at an estimated cost of $16,500 per space – is an option.

During the discussion, Alderman John Wirth suggested the Town Center’s parking woes are the responsibility of the property owner, rather than the city. He suggested the city could take a tighter look at issuing occupancy permits for vacant storefronts if they will add to the parking shortage.

“Until they solve this parking problem, they shouldn’t get new tenants,” he said.

Later in the meeting – while Victor Anderson, representing Town Center owner Lokre Real Estate, was speaking – Wirth said, “I believe the problem we’re being asked to solve is your problem.”

Anderson, Lokre’s brokerage and property manager, was in the process of telling aldermen that the parking situation has “negatively affected success” for the Town Center.

Referring to the proposed Backwoods restaurant, Anderson said the plan and its “high parking demands … doesn’t make any sense to me or our company.”

Leszcynski, who described numerous productive meetings with city staff over the past few months to address parking concerns related to his restaurant proposal, said he did not believe he was getting a fair shake in the report.

“I think there’s a bias – and I have a problem with that,” said Leszcynski, who started his remarks vowing to “keep my powder dry for September,” when staff will return with its proposals.

Others who addressed aldermen included:

Mequon resident Nancy Urbani, who opposed another idea in the report to pave some of the areas adjacent to the Frank L. Weyenberg Library to add parking spots. She said the obvious solution is to raze the Logemann Center to add as much parking as possible there.

“Please, please do not pave all the green space that surrounds the library,” she said.

Charles Friedlein, commander of the Howard J. Schroeder American Legion Post on the west end of the Town Center. He said the 775-member post relies on income from renting its hall for weddings and other events to pay its bills. He said he favors removing the Logemann Center and building a parking structure.


<<EARLIER: Raze Logemann Center, parking study says