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… that the City’s parking engine is rolling along, with the purchase of five license-plate recognition systems from Passport Labs of Charlotte, N.C., making seven in all. These systems bolster parking enforcement by verifying parking permits, confirming mobile and pay station payments (though not always in a timely manner), issuing citations, identifying scofflaws whose vehicles may be booted and checking wheel-tax compliance. The City says these new systems “will allow for almost-real-time analysis of data such as citation issuance and parking lot occupancy when conducting usage studies.” The cost of each of these new units is $8,000 less than the previous ones, according to the City.
… that these new systems will be able to start their wheel-tax compliance surveys earlier, as the City has changed the deadline from Dec. 31 to Oct. 1. No word on how the cost will be structured, since current residents who paid their wheel tax have paid through Dec. 31. So maybe these will be 12-month permits with only a 10-month charge the first years. The City plans to have all parking charges, etc. on digital platforms by November. “The plan is for all vehicle related permits (Wheel Tax, Residential Permits, Lot Permits) to be digital with enforcement done with License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology.” At least this move should save a lot of paper and ink.
… that, speaking of cars and such, the Mobile service station on Chicago just north of Howard is getting a facelift via zoning relief. In addition to the 10-pump gasoline station, there will be a 1,500-square-foot convenience store, customer and employee parking, vacuum and tire pressure machines, one diesel gas pump and a 21-foot two-way drive aisle.
… that, farther west and just a bit north, a new 4,500-square-foot car wash facility with 20 vacuum spaces and four parking spaces (mentioned in this column a few weeks ago) will soon come to 2425 Oakton.
And now to park; The City began this week to upgrade the parking lot at Tallmadge Park, behind the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St. Metered parking will not be available while crews lay permeable pavers in two of the aisles and improve drainage. landscaping and lighting – should be about a six-week project.
A second project will be the construction of a new parking lot at 717 Howard, currently a vacant lot. This project is also expected to take six weeks to complete.
Whew! After all that carbon-heavy info, TG is delighted to hear that more trees will be planted here this spring and summer. The City will be purchasing 246 trees to be planted on parks and parkways this summer, some by City crews and some by Herrera Landscaping and Snow Removal, a local compay. The City will also be planting 40 trees provide a gift from Vistra Energy. The company has partnered with the Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Region Trees Initiative to help plant trees in the communities that Vistra Energy serves.
… that, also in the interests of sustainability, several businesses and transit agencies last week hosted “Get On Board Day” to urge legislators to pass a statewide transportation-funding bill.
… that last weekend’s snow caught a few people, plants and flowers by surprise. Speaking of snow, the City now mandates property owners to clear snow – including snow removed from other parts of the property (think, sidewalk and driveways) – from around trash and recycling receptacles. It’s not good for trash to accumulate, even on winter days.
Catchup: Allen Feuerstein recently wrote to the RoundTable, questioning the height and placement of certain advisory signs around town. Public Works Agency Director Dave Stoneback responded that federal guidelines regarding height and placement are just that – guidelines. They are not mandates. Still, he said, the City tries to observe those guidelines. Mr. Feuerstein also objected to the fact that on many blocks there are parking advisories at each end but no sign in the middle of the block. Mr. Stoneback said the City removed many of those middle-of-the-block signs to reduce clutter on the parkways but may revisit that decision, Mr. Stoneback said.
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that something that could inject a little wonder, if not levity, would be a light-and-water show at Fountain Square, maybe one or two evenings a week. Just a half-hour of dancing water plumes and sprays – with tinted water or colored lights – and some good music could bring spectators, some of whom might become customers or even regular visitors.
… that it would be a good idea to watch out for crews doing sewer-rehab work over the next few weeks.