More Parking Near Wrigley? Some Actually Say It's a Bad Idea

By Serena Dai on April 5, 2013 7:36am 

 A petition has been started to not add more parking to Wrigleyville.
A petition has been started to not add more parking to Wrigleyville.
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WRIGLEYVILLE — More parking in Wrigleyville? No way, some residents say.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has said parking is one of the critical issues the Cubs must address before he will ease restrictions to help fund the team's $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field — and the team said it would build a new, 300-space parking garage at Clark and Grace streets in response.

But a group of residents and alternative transportation advocates started a petition to encourage the alderman and the Cubs to not build additional parking in the neighborhood. Existing lots are underutilized and adding spaces will bring more cars into the neighborhood, the petition says.

Solving the parking issue by building more spots will just bring more problems into neighborhood, they said.

"Wrigleyville is a vibrant neighborhood," said Suzanne Carlson, a resident who's been trying to rally support for more alternative transportation. "If you bring a parking garage, and people are driving, it would not have the character it has today."

The official position of Lake View Citizens' Council, an umbrella group for 10 neighborhood groups, is that the city and the Cubs should maximize existing parking options, provide incentives for people to use remote parking, and provide parking for a planned hotel development across the street from the ballpark, according to a letter they wrote to the mayor.

The Cubs' plan to build an open-air plaza on the triangle property adjacent to the ballpark erased a previous plan to build a parking lot with 400 spots. The Cubs expect to come to an agreement with the city by Monday that would free them to move forward on a $500 million renovation of Wrigley Field and development of properties around the stadium, a source confirmed Thursday.

Petition organizers, who collaborated with alternative transportation group Bike Uptown, write in a letter that they want to see the conversation driven by "environmentally sound solutions" such as ticket discounts or promotional days for people who don't drive, more marketing on transportation choices, investments in bike lanes, and ticket packages that include transit passes.

"Don't turn Lakeview into a parking lot," the petition says.

As of late Thursday, 100 people had signed the petition. A few were from people who said they did not live in Chicago.

Carlson and others want to make sure people promoting alternative transportation have a voice in Wrigley Field negotiations. The worry is that in the heat of the talks, parking will be presented as a solution without consideration for whether a demand exists. 

"There haven’t been conversations about other ways people can get here," Carlson said. "There are so many other ways that haven’t been promoted to get into the neighborhood."

Discussions with neighborhood group representatives about parking have included ideas like establishing relationships with existing parking lots and providing incentives for people to use remote parking, such as offering it for free or building express bus lanes.

The DeVry University remote lot, for instance, costs $6 to use.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green had no direct response to the petition but said the team is working toward a long-term solution for parking. A traffic study is in the works that will influence their ideas, which include both increasing parking at some of the offsite lots and working with existing lots.

Tunney staffer Erin Duffy said the alderman might not have seen the petition yet. But parking, promoting public transportation and providing discount CTA fare cards is up to the Cubs according to the city ordinance governing night games at Wrigley, and not up to the alderman, she said. Current lack of parking drives Cubs fans to park on residential streets, taking away spots from residents.

"These are all direct responsibilities of the Cubs and not the alderman," she said.

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.

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