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River North Residents 'Livid' As New Parking-Meter Deal Advances

 Nancy Zirlin, a River North resident for 11 years, says the proposed parking meter deal puts an unfair burden on her neighborhood.
Nancy Zirlin, a River North resident for 11 years, says the proposed parking meter deal puts an unfair burden on her neighborhood.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman

RIVER NORTH — Nancy Zirlin has been in love with River North since she bought a place there more than a decade ago, but after a proposal to make it costlier to park at night in her neighborhood advanced in the City Council Monday, she was livid.

"I think it's disgusting, it's despicable, and I'm very disappointed in the whole situation," Zirlin said. "I mean, they should give us something. Give us a Sunday afternoon, give us holidays, give us something, instead of taking away. I'm disappointed. Very, very disappointed."

Under the deal that changes when parking meters are enforced around the city, River North gets the short end of the stick, with metered hours extending from 9 p.m. until midnight there, where other neighborhoods will only have to pay until 10 p.m.

Other neighborhoods also get free parking on Sundays to offset the added meter hours in the new deal, a provision Mayor Rahm Emanuel added because he didn't think it was right that residents had to pay to park when going to church. There will not be free Sundays in River North, however.

Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) also doesn't think the deal is fair.

"I'd like to remind them that Downtown Chicago, the 42nd Ward, is home to dozens of religious institutions that provide ministry to thousands of Chicagoans," he told DNAinfo.com Chicago when the revised deal was announced in late April. "So where's their free parking?"

Reilly led the campaign against the proposal at City Hall Monday, but the plan passed out of the Finance Committee and will go to a full City Council vote on Wednesday.

"We're gonna spend the next 36 hours talking to our colleagues, trying to persuade them to hold out for a better settlement deal," Reilly said Monday, after predicting that the full council vote will go differently than the 15-6 committee vote. "Here's where the hard work begins."

Zirlin — who lives with her husband in an apartment at West Erie and North Kingsbury streets — said she was worried the move would also hurt business and deter prospective residents from settling in the neighborhood.

"I love everything about [River North] but the parking situation, and it's about to get worse. It makes me think, why would I want to be here, and go through that?"

She added: "Why would anybody buy a city sticker for this area to park overnight when it's [only applicable from] 12 o'clock to 6 in the morning?"

Although she has a parking spot in her building, she said that late metered hours cripple her ability to entertain from her home.

"I do have family, I do have company, and I'm always trying to finagle a way to get somebody to visit me without having to pay for parking and that's just not gonna happen. It's even gonna be worse," she said. "You can't have a dinner, you can't have family over, you just can't. If they want this to be a family city, they're not doing anything to help it."