Opposition grows to city's parking plan - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Opposition grows to city's parking plan

Mayor Greg Ballard Mayor Greg Ballard
Broad Ripple would be one focus of parking changes. Broad Ripple would be one focus of parking changes.
The new meters would take credit and debit cards. The new meters would take credit and debit cards.

Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - Some people are not happy with Mayor Greg Ballard's proposal to lease the city's parking system to a private company.

As Eyewitness News first reported Thursday, Ballard wants to lease meter operations to Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) for 50 years. Under the deal, the city would get $35 million up front and a share of the parking and enforcement revenues over the life of the contract.

The mayor's office estimates the value of the contract at more than $400 million.

But along with new electronic meters, which would take credit and debit cards, the city would also expand the hours of operation to nights and Saturdays and raise meter rates both downtown and in Broad Ripple.

Most rates would go from 75 cents an hour to $1.50 in 2012 and be adjusted to inflation after that. While the mayor calls that reasonable, as rates haven't increased in 35 years, some say it's too much too soon.

"I would not be inclined to (pay) that. I would do what I could to avoid (a metered spot)," said Meredith Cohen, a college student.

"I would just try to find some place that's free and if I couldn't, I'd take my service elsewhere," said DJ Heftleft, who parks in Broad Ripple.

Fred McLaughlin with Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. said, while "nobody likes to pay more, it's a modest increase and you have to look at the benefits," one of which is increased turnover of spaces, something many merchants want.

Ed Treacy, chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, questions the selection of ACS, one of 16 companies that initially submitted proposals to run the city's parking system.

"We have a situation choosing ACS, the same company that bungled the state welfare system," Treacy said.

ACS was one of the companies that came under fire after problems with a state contract involving Indiana Family & Social Services. Asked whether that gave the mayor pause, Ballard said, "No, I don't think so. They had a strong local component."

ACS is partnering with Indy-based Dennison Global Parking and Evens Time to operate meters. The city is also working on a contract to have ACS oversee city-owned parking garages and lots. ACS said it manages parking systems in 25 cities and at 18 airports.

"Modernization of parking systems is what we do. It's the core of our business," David Amoriell with ACS said.

Under state law, all the revenue the city gets from the parking deal - and continued parking revenues - must go to infrastructure near the meters. Ballard said the money would be used to repair streets, curbs and sidewalks and also build a new parking garage in Broad Ripple.

Asked when they hoped to break ground, he joked, "ten years ago."

Ballard said the city had looked at four possible locations, though he wouldn't say how far along they were in the process. The parking deal needs City-County Council approval.

"A 50-year lease is a cause for concern," Democratic Minority Leader Joanne Sanders said.

She also worried about charging for parking on Saturdays, but she wouldn't speculate on her party's position, saying they still needed to be briefed on the plan. She expecting briefings to take place next week.

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