The City of Rock Island slacked off on parking enforcement during the pandemic. However, outside contractor Per Mar Services started tracking parked cars for the city recently. It left warning tickets for a couple of weeks and now parking violations carry fines again.

Local 4 News spoke with Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms, who said that there hasn’t been any enforcement of parking rules in the downtown area since before the pandemic.

“What happens is that employees of some of the businesses will park where the customers are supposed to be, and be there all day. The customers then call and complain and say ‘I can’t get a parking space,’ or ‘I can’t get close enough,'” he said.

Thoms told us that businesses complain too.

“Then some businesses will call and say ‘Wait a minute. It’s full in front of my business because other employees are parked down here so long,'” Thoms said.

So enforcement is back even if some people – including the mayor – sometimes don’t like it.

“Unfortunately I’ll say in the Midwest, a lot of us are used to and wanting to park right in front of the door. And I’m guilty of that at times,” Thoms said.

In partnership with the city, Per Mar Services staff began putting out notices two weeks ago. Now they are writing tickets again.

“Now, we were going to start it back up several months ago. But we went to update the software while we were down, and there were glitches with that,” Thoms said. “There’s a special software to be able to track a license plate for the location.”

There were problems after the software update, Thoms said. “So it got delayed several more months. Now we just got them all working again,” Thoms said.

Starting next month, the city will begin demolition on the parking ramp at 16th Street and 3rd Avenue.

“We did a survey and we’re not even close to utilizing the whole parking ramp. There’s three levels, and really one level has been sufficient,” Thoms said.

The replacement will be one level, with more than 300 spots. Work is scheduled to start by spring. “By opening that all up, ground level, we’ll get better than half of what’s in the ramp,” Thoms said.

In the meantime, the city is offering parking permits that will allow the public to remain in one spot for a whole day. For a permit for downtown Rock Island parking, visit here.