The Parkview Gardens plan is still winding through the University City Plan Commission but the city council clarified its position Monday on one possible aspect of the plan. The council voted 5-2 to keep the existing free parking in the Loop while the city begins a dialogue with Delmar Loop businesses about maintaining the parking in the future.
Mayor Shelley Welsch and Councilman Michael Glickert voted against the measure. Welsch said she objected to voting on anything related to the plan before it was approved by the plan commission and came before the council for a vote.
"This plan is still before the plan commission," Welsch said. "It will come before us later this month or next. I strongly believe that we shouldn't vote on it until it comes through the plan commission. The commission should be allowed to do its work without any undue pressure from us and a vote would be undue pressure."
Councilman Byron Price, who proposed the vote, said the decision was not dictating action but was stating the philosophical beliefs of the council.
"This has nothing to do with the planning commission," he said. "This is a philosophical question—we need to state what our position on this is."
Price said the free parking helped to make the Delmar Loop "one of the 10 best streets in America," and he didn't want to tamper with that.
Councilman Arthur Sharpe, who voted for the measure, said early in the debate that his conversations with City Manager Lehman Walker led him to believe the city was not eliminating free parking.
"I'm satisfied with what he has told me and I'll leave it at that," he said.
Councilwoman Paulette Carr said she believed the city and the Loop Special Business District could come up with a creative way to make both parties happy.
"I do not want to see the viability of our premiere street threatened in any way," she said.
Part of the Parkview Gardens draft proposal mentions the possibility of developing the property for condos. Carr told the council that within the City of Clayton there are two large condo buildings, sitting unrented. "Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come," she said.
Former Councilwoman Lynn Ricci, who left the council in April after choosing not to run for reelection, spoke to the council for the first time since leaving as a private citizen. She urged the city to do a traffic study and really evaluate the costs and benefits of the city-owned lot.
"I certainly hope you will reconsider free parking in the Loop," she said. "Make an informed, educated decision. Get the information to determine the financial and liability costs of this lot."
The Plan Commission meets at 7 p.m. tonight.