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Parking changes beginning in downtown Hinsdale

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 2:12 p.m. CDT

HINSDALE – The Village of Hinsdale will soon implement the first change in an attempt to alleviate downtown parking woes.

During a Hinsdale Zoning and Public Safety Committee meeting Monday, village officials announced that an electronic paybox will be installed in the Garfield Street parking lot in Downtown Hinsdale. The paybox will be a trial run to see if paying for parking through a smart phone app is a viable option for downtown shoppers and commuters.

"Our hope is we're going to have a lot of regular users using the parking app," Hinsdale Police Chief Brad Bloom said.

The move is in part a reaction to a recent study by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning that found that people visiting the downtown can’t find a place to park because 15 to 30 percent of street parking is being used by employees.

Residents will be able to access the new paybox manually or through a smart phone app, selecting the spot where their vehicle is parked, then paying for the desired hours and corresponding fee. Unlike some payboxes, these will not print out tickets that are displayed on vehicle dashboards.

Changes to the paybox system could be made as early as Sept. 1, and other changes will come after, albeit slowly.

Payboxes are already being used in the commuter lots downtown. Currently, those commuters use the paybox app more frequently than any other stop along the route that runs from Aurora to Chicago, according to Bloom.

"Because we're seeing so much use of the app in the commuter lots, it's kind of raised our level of confidence," he said.

Bloom pointed out that the app would be more convenient during the winter when making a trek through the snow to get to a paybox becomes grueling; or when shoppers are running low on time, they could be alerted of how long they have left in parking and could pay with a click of a button.

If the app system catches on, parking meters throughout downtown would slowly be replaced by payboxes. If the system is deemed successful, there will be less payboxes than meters because one box accounts for several parking spots.

During Monday's meeting, village officials also discussed possibly increasing the parking limit from two hours to six hours and adding 15-minute parking spaces on the corners of each block.

But the zoning and public safety commission has no timetable when the additional parking changes could approved or implemented.

"This is an unusual type of project," Village Trustee Bob Saigh said. "There's going to be some trial and error."

Because village officials are unsure how changes to parking will impact the downtown, there is no concrete schedule. However, Saigh said the Zoning and Public Safety Committee will have ongoing discussions at their monthly meetings and the village board will be able to discuss the changes, as well.

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