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Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to adopt a new game day parking zone ordinance that city officials hope will generate about $100,000 in revenue across the seven Northwestern University home football game Saturdays this fall.

The plan would let residents of the zone who pay city wheel tax on their cars park for free in the zone, and would use license-plate-recognition equipment on parking enforcement vehicles to distinguish residents from out-of-town football fans.

The game-goers would be able to pay the $40 parking fee using the new ParkEvanston mobile app for cell phones.

Visitors who failed to pay the fee would face an $80 fine. The new rate would apply from four hours before game time until two hours after the event starts.

Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says the mobile app and license-plate-recognition equipment give the city “an option to potentially relieve parking congestion and create a new funding source that could be used for many capital improvement needs.”

Storlie and Parking Division Manager Jill Velan say the new zone would cover about 50 city blocks, and assuming there are an average of 10 open spaces per block on a normal Saturday, filling those up with NU sports fans on seven fall home-game Saturdays would hypothetically yield $140,000.

But Stolie and Velan also anticipate that some parkers will chose to use the free campus parking and shuttle bus service once free parking in the neighborhood is no longer available.

It’s expected to cost aobut $3,500 to post signs throughout the affected area alerting drivers to the new parking fee.

Storlie and Velan says 1,600 letters were sent to notify residents of an Aug. 2 neighborhood meeting at the Civic Center to discuss the plan. Twenty-five residents showed up and another 40 responded by email. Storlie says the responses were evenly split for and against the plan.

The proposal is being presented to aldermen as a pilot program for this year’s football season. To be in effect for the first home football game against Duke on Sept. 8, aldermen will have to waive their usual rules and give final approval to the plan Monday night.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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