TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Topeka City Council held a discussion on Tuesday night regarding possible adjustments to the City’s downtown parking system.

The main focus of the City Council was to discuss policy changes necessary to generate the revenue to support modernization of the downtown parking system. No major decisions were made during the meeting.

Jason Tryon, PW Budget Analytics Manager, and Hannah Uhlrig, Deputy Director of Public Works, presented the update to the downtown parking situation. According to their presentation, downtown parking can sustain a self-funded enterprise model with the existing City Operate Parking System with rate increases and paid parking on Kansas Avenue and the 100 blocks. However, this will only work if there is a one-time infusion from the General Fund to cover deferred capital repairs.

Tryon and Uhlrig also discussed the removal of the Townsite and Coronado parking garages which would have an estimated annual operating impact of -$3.6 million over the next ten years and would result in a rate increase of 119% in 2023. They also discussed the demolition of the Uptowner parking garage which would cost an estimated $2.5 million. The impact of removing parking garages would need to be offset by increased rates by 53% on other systems to make up for the average loss of $366,000.

The City Council also discussed the idea of changing the payment options for parking in some downtown areas by introducing apps, app-only zones and a central hub where payments could be made.

The City Council originally authorized staff to proceed with recommendations for creating a Comprehensive Parking Plan in 2017 but the onset of COVID-19 forced the plan to be postponed. So far, discussions around the parking plan have included the need for parking garages, free on-street parking on Kansas Avenue and the 100 blocks along with the viability of the Parking fund to be self-sufficient.