Color-coded maps of the very near south side seemed to be everywhere in recent months; and the future of zoned parking was on everyone's mind in the South Loop. Rumors spread that zoned parking would cease to be a local convenience for the few residents it serves in very small segments of the neighborhood--where parking is at a premium for whatever reason. Would hyper-local residents still be able cling to the parking spaces in front of their homes for themselves--or would our fear of spaces being taken over by people outside the immediate neighborhood soon be realized?
The way the maps looked to people, the area between Congress and the Stevenson and the Lake to the River seemed to become one big zone--and the residents closest to downtown became wary that their neighbors to the south and east--and those neighbors' friends--would be driving north and west, and putting a sticker on their car--and using the north part of the South Loop for parking during the work week.
But last week at a community meeting organized by South Loop Neighbors
at Grace Place on Printers Row
, Alderman Bob Fioretti laid everyone's fears to rest about such a thing happening. "Everything will remain exactly the same as before," he said. "In spite of the new colors and numbers on the map. If you had zoned parking before, you still have it in your area and in the same zone," he said. "And if you didn't, you still don't. With one exception."
He went on to explain that one small area--Zone 550--which had been enclosed on the western end of Zone 40 (basically Dearborn Park 1) would be subsumed by Zone 40, giving both zones extra parking in the area within the other's former zone. He said it made sense because of the way Zone 550 was surrounded by the greater Zone 40.
One thing Fioretti was unable to guarantee, though, was preventing more parking meters being installed in the area in the future. Although he said he didn't want more--if for no other reason than the convenience, comfort and safety of his constituents--but there was no way to completely assure that there wouldn't be more in the future.
When he said that, trepidation, resignation and disappointment could be felt throughout the room.
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