The City of Coeur d’Alene is dipping its toes into private parking lot waters.
City officials said the City is seeking bids from qualified contractors regarding lots under contract with Diamond Parking.
“This is more of a validation process than anything,” City Administrator Troy Tymesen said. “The City is always looking to make sure we’re partnering with the best possible provider. We’re rolling out the new Pass programs, among others, so we want to make sure that we’re keeping our options open.”
Parking contractors have until Nov. 12 to submit their proposals to City Hall. Tymesen emphasized he expects Diamond Parking to be among the bidders.
“I think we’ve had a really good partnership,” he said. “It’s been a good working relationship. This isn’t an indictment of their work. This is us just performing our due diligence to make sure we’re getting the best services available.”
The City is able to seek out bids and end its agreement with Diamond Parking because of a 30-day early termination opt-out clause in its three contracts with the private parking collection and enforcement company. The decision came in concert with an August proposal spearheaded by Mayor Steve Widmyer to bring free parking back to McEuen Park and Memorial Field. Part of that proposal included a provision to opt out. Having since been approved by both the Parking Commission and then City Council, Coeur d’Alene is now officially reaching out. Tymesen said it was only the third time in 27 years he could recall.
The move does not necessarily mean a changing of the parking guard, however. The last time the City put the contract out to bid was 2013. Only one company at the time — Diamond — submitted a bid.
“Diamond has been very cooperative,” Council Member Kiki Miller said. “I’ve sat in meetings where they’ve done a lot of extra effort to help the City when we needed it. They perform above and beyond for us as much as they can.”
That said, Miller added she supports the re-bid.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “I think it’s good that we’re paying attention to new opportunities ... But we’re dealing with some changes. We have different parking lots than we’ve had before. We’ve seen rate changes. We’ve seen new issues arise. We’ve seen changes in the community.”
Part of those changes included a vocal borderline-revolt by Coeur d’Alene residents over the summer, a boisterous and impassioned plea for the City to reinstate free parking to locals.
“I think the public input we’ve received is one of the reasons the [request for proposals] was revisited,” Miller said. “I absolutely think public input will be part of the process going forward. I absolutely think the people will be heard.”