In response to resident complaints about commuters using residential streets for all-day parking, Riverside’s village board is contemplating some sort of parking ban on a 390-foot stretch of Akenside Road just west of Longcommon Road.
While trustees deferred a decision on a ban at a meeting of the village board on June 5, trustees may take up the subject again at their June 19 meeting.
However, the Riverside Police Department was expected to immediately begin steps to enforce the village’s ordinance regarding parking within 25 feet of a crosswalk. There are two crosswalks in that stretch of Akenside Road, one at Longcommon Road and another directly across from the Hauser Junior High playground, closer to Michaux Road.
“We don’t need an ordinance for that,” said Police Chief Eugene Karczewski. “We can post that signage immediately.”
But what sort of parking ban might be enacted for the rest of that stretch of Akenside Road between Longcommon and Michaux roads isn’t clear at this point.
Back in May, the village’s Safe Environment Commission addressed the issue after a letter from Riverside resident John Tkalec stated that he “noticed more and more Metra commuters are parking their vehicles on the residential streets. … I don’t think that this was the intention of the village for Metra commuters … to avoid paying the parking fee for the designated village lots.”
After receiving the letter, Riverside police observed the stretch of Akenside between Longcommon and Michaux roads for several days, and noted that a number of the cars parking there belonged to commuters, many of them Riverside residents.
“They were parked there on a continual basis,” said Police Chief Eugene Karczewski.
Karczewski added that commuter parking on Akenside Road was a problem since so many school children used the two crosswalks while heading to and from Central and Hauser schools.
As a result, the Safe Environment Commission agreed with Karczewski’s recommendation to limit parking on that portion of Akenside Road to four hours.
Members of the village board, however, turned aside the recommendation, saying more information was needed on how such a ban would affect District 96 faculty, who also use Akenside Road as a parking option.
Dist. 96 Supt. Jonathan Lamberson was unable to attend the May 16 meeting of the Safe Environment Commission, but stated in a letter that “due to the increasing number of staff serving students at the Hauser/Central campus, the district respectfully requests that the village allow special permitting for District 96 staff members so they can exceed the four-hour parking limit on school days only.
“Parking … continues to be a pressing issue for us since nearly two-thirds of our entire district enrollment?”over 800 students?”attend school on this campus.”
Trustee John Scully complained that he could not vote on Karczewski’s recommendation because Lamberson’s issues had not been addressed.
“I won’t vote in favor until I can see how many [parking permits] he wants,” Scully said. “It bothers me we don’t do that in advance of bringing it to the board.”
Reached last Friday, Lamberson said his staff was working on gauging exactly how many Dist. 96 staff park along Akenside Road during the day, and reiterated that parking in that area “has been a driving issue” for the district.
“We’ve added staff to accommodate enrollment, so we are up pretty substantially,” Lamberson.
Meanwhile, Trustee Kevin Smith said the issue of safety would not be addressed by limiting parking to four hours, since cars will still be present whether parking was limited to four hours or eight hours.
“The ban would not be there to discourage or encourage safety,” responded Village Manager Kathleen Rush, “but to encourage commuters to find commuter parking.”
Trustee Candice Grace suggested that faculty could find parking just as easily farther west on Akenside.
“Why not park by the ballfield [west of the Michaux Road crosswalk]?” asked Grace, an Akenside Road resident. “It’s a perfectly good place to park.”