The renovation of the former Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on Ella Court Street in Marinette is expected to create new opportunities for Marinette County, but it also is expected to create some parking woes. The Marinette County Board’s Infrastructure Committee is looking at two options submitted by County Administrator John Lefebvre to ease the anticipated problem.

Lefebvre’s first option would create 22 parking spaces on property the county owns across Hall Avenue between NEWCAP and Mocco’s Floor Coverings. A second proposal could provide 13 more spaces by closing a section of Ella Court Street in front of the former LEC. The county would need the assistance of the Marinette City Council to accomplish the latter option.

The county acquired ownership of the vacant property on Hall Avenue with the intention of converting it into a parking area yet this year. The plan will also require some help from the city.

According to Lefebvre, the city has a requirement that some green space must be left when developing a parking lot. Lefebvre wants to hard-surface the entire lot in order to get the maximum parking space out of the lot. There wouldn’t be any green space.

The county administrator’s pitch to the city has a new angle. Instead of paving the Hall Avenue lot with asphalt the county would use permeable power, which is like an old-time parking lot with paver blocks. The permeable pavement would allow the water to penetrate into the ground. He added the county would dress up the parking lot with large planting boxes and placing a bench near the sidewalk.

The county has diagonal parking on Ella Court Street opposite the former LEC and a nearby parking area by the Mariner Theater, plus parking area by Krist Oil Co.

One of the incentives the county would submit to the city for surrendering the street would be to include a “green roof” atop the former two-story Law Enforcement Center to be used by the community and county employees.

The county is desperate for additional downtown parking and Lefebvre says the proposed parking plans won’t happen overnight and it will take some cooperation between the two units of local government — city and county. There are other elements in the county-proposed parking plan that will involve changes and related costs. For example, in order to make the green roof a reality, the elevator in the LEC would have to be replaced.

In an unrelated area, the Civic Affairs, Cemetery, Traffic & Lights Committee of the Marinette City Council recently approved a proposal to double overtime parking fines in the city. The existing fine is $20 if paid within 72 hours and $40 is not paid within the time frame. The new fine will be $40 for violations and $80 if not paid within the 72-hour limit. The former rate schedule was enacted in 2009.

The downtown region has of history of parking woes. When the downtown was a lively place filled with retail stores, banks, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, movie theaters and professional outlets staffed with family physicians, dentists and lawyers, parking was a problem. Customers could park on either side of Main Street and Hall Avenue.

The Marinette Chamber of Commerce, acting on the pleas of the business community, pleaded for more-off-street parking. Eventually, some well-worn buildings were razed and the space converted to parking lots. Many voices blamed the lack of parking for the advancement of a mall and other businesses at the southern boundaries of the city.

The latest plea for improved parking is more related to citizens being able to reach the services of local governmental entities and to accommodate employees who staff these facilities. The request for more parking is a valid call. It’s going to take synergic teamwork on the part of the city and county to achieve a common goal.