By: Michael Leischner WSAU
WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -- The Wausau City Council cleared the final hurdle to implement the city's upcoming downtown parking changes on Wednesday.
Leaders unanimously approved spending $303,064 to purchase and install up to 10 payment kiosks to be located throughout downtown. The stations will replace the city's current fleet of parking meters, which are so old that the city can't find parts for them anymore.
"Later on in the fall all the equipment; the kiosks, signs everything associated with the changes that are coming was approved. Now it's official - it will be coming here in the fall," said Mayor Robert Mielke.
He adds that the response he's gotten to the changes has been largely positive. "Especially from business owners downtown and residents, a lot of this has been a long time coming. I do believe most people are going to be very pleased with the results when everything happens."
The Police Department's parking enforcement division will not begin ticketing violators right away. Mielke says there will be a grace period of up to two months to allow residents and visitors to adjust. Additionally, residents will be given one free warning each year for violating the new rules.
"Yes, change is hard, and I know there are computers involved. It will take some education, but it will be a forgiving process for the first couple of months while this is being implemented," added Mielke.
Mielke says residents who are smartphone-savvy will also find convenience in the fact that the app that will be used to pay for parking is the same one already in use in several other cities statewide. "Oh gosh Stevens Point, Appleton, La Crosse all come to mind. I believe Eau Claire and Green Bay all use the same system, so they can utilize that service here like they would there too."
The Council held its regular August meeting on Wednesday due to the Wisconsin primary election on Tuesday.