Village officials seek remedies for downtown parking issues

By Brandon Anderegg

July 11, 2018

  Palmer’s Steak House on 122 E. Capitol Drive is one of many successful restaurants and businesses in downtown Hartland that have added to the amount of cars there.
Brandon Anderegg/Freeman Staff

HARTLAND — Village officials are seeking solutions to downtown parking problems as new businesses and restaurants on the main drag have led to residents and visitors cramming for that “perfect spot.”

Back in 2005, the downtown was relatively quiet with little to do, said Jeff Pfannerstill, village president. Now, Hartland has a lot more night life, adding to increased vehicle and foot traffic, he said.

“On some nights [in the past], you could walk down the dotted line and not even worry about a car hitting you,” Pfannerstill said. “Now there’s a lot of activity between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the village, and a lot of those people want to be in the same area.”

While new businesses are great for the local economy, Pfannerstill said, people have started to park illegally, and in some cases in front of driveways. Residents have also complained about the bumper-tobumper parking, which makes it difficult to maneuver, especially on weekends, Pfannerstill said.

At Monday night’s Village Board meeting, Pfannerstill entertained the idea of parking stalls to add more organization.

“By going to a more organized fashion, we will consistently be able to have that same amount of parking in that general area,” Pfannerstill said.

  The Hartland Department of Public Works recently installed municipal parking lot signs around the village so downtown visitors can find alternate parking.
Brandon Anderegg/Freeman Staff

While stalls were just a part of preliminary discussion, board members agreed that a change should be made.

But the problem is not that the village doesn’t have enough places to park. In fact, there are a total of six municipal lots within walking distance of downtown Hartland. And even though these lots were recently marked with a green sign, most people don’t know they exist, Pfannerstill said.

“Once people know, we may take the step of painting yellow parking lines on the road, so we don’t have people taking up extra space,” Pfannerstill said. “It forces there to be a general system instead of it being a free-for-all.”

Hartland Fire Chief Dave Dean also said village officials should look into handicap parking spots in downtown Hartland, adding that there aren’t many.

Increasing citations

Pfannerstill also suggested increasing the cost of parking tickets so visitors are less inclined to park illegally. Right now, Hartland’s parking citation is $10, which is $10 less than the City of Pewaukee, Delafield, Waukesha and both the village and Town of Merton.

It’s not clear if and when the ticket price will rise or if parking stalls are the solution, Pfannerstill said. But paying an officer to write the ticket costs the village more money than it receives from the ticket, and it’s not very effective, he said.

“The ticket has to be a deterrent,” Pfannerstill said. “It’s not suppose to be fun to pay a fine.”