Park Ridge neighbors overruled in heritage center parking debate
The Kalo Foundation's work to save artist Alfonso Iannelli's home and studio in Park Ridge earned the city a 2012 Governor's Hometown Award. | Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 10:13AM
PARK RIDGE — Park Ridge aldermen heard, but ultimately did not heed, neighbors demands that formal mandates be imposed to discourage street parking around Iannelli Studios Heritage Center.
The City Council this week passed the first readings of two ordinances to establish a “heritage center” as a special use in a B-1, retail and office, and to grant special-use for the Kalo Foundation to operate Iannelli Studios Heritage Center at 255 N. Northwest Highway.
Though the permit comes with the stipulation that the heritage center must “promote and publicize the use of alternative parking lots,” nearby residents want a stronger guarantee that the Kalo Foundation will do its best to communicate with its visitors.
A letter signed by members of 11 households on the 300 block of Root Street, 700 and 800 blocks of Elm Street, and the 800 block of Hansen Place asked officials to require the heritage center to tell guests about nearby alternative lots via its online and print communications, A-frames and permanent signage on its door.
Residents also supported the placement of “Residential Only Parking” and “Iannelli Studio Parking Not Permitted” signs on their blocks.
Bobbi Oschger, who lives on the 300 block of Root Street, said the heritage center is “a welcome addition to the Park Ridge cultural community,” but better attempts must be made to discourage visitors from parking on residential streets.
She said that, for a senior with physical impairments it is not safe to carry groceries or walk alone at night if she must park a block or more away from her house.
“Kalo visitor parking on Root and Elm (streets) will only get worse without a very simple intervention from the city of Park Ridge,” she said at the July 16 City Council meeting.
“We would just like to have Kalo make very simple and easy, but serious and continuous, attempts to inform their visitors to use the alternative parking lot across the street,” she said.
An amendment to the special-use permit proposed by 2nd Ward Alderman Richard DiPietro that included some of neighbors’ suggestions resulted in a backlash by Kalo representatives who thought specific requirements for communication set an unwarranted precedent for future businesses.
“We have taken every measure we can to be a good neighbor,” said Kalo representative Judy Barclay. “What you’re telling us to do you’ve never told any other applicant.”
She said asking the foundation to actively seek parking for its patrons from another vendor and requiring parking information to be posted on its website and Facebook page is “onerous” and “restrictive.”
Barclay pointed out that a public lot with 75 spaces is across the street from the center, and that the Kalo Foundation already provides directions and a map for parking on its website.
And though St. Andrews Lutheran Church had given permission to the foundation in the past to use its 25-space lot during special events, officials are requiring the parties to formalize the arrangement.
DiPietro did not ask for parking restrictions on public streets.
“How much does a designated landmark and a historic site in this community have to do to be able to function and survive?” Barclay asked.
Third Ward Alderman Jim Smith said parking near the heritage center was a “hypothetical problem of the future” and that the council should act at a later date, if need be.
Neighbors of the center, on the other hand, contend parking in the area has already been an issue, pointing to a June 24 Rotary luncheon as an example of overcrowding on the side streets.
DiPietro’s amendment ultimately resulted in a split vote by the City Council, as 7th Ward Alderman Marty Maloney was absent.
Mayor David Schmidt declined to vote, saying he is Kalo member, thereby causing the motion to fail.
City Attorney Buzz Hill noted that once a permit for special-use is granted, its conditions cannot be changed.
Park Ridge would still have the authority, though, to implement general parking restrictions.