The Gilroy City Council chose a consultant Sept. 21 to design a future parking lot downtown.
The council agreed unanimously to award the $241,396 contract to BKF Engineers, who will design the parking lot proposed at the corner of Eigleberry and Seventh streets.
The council approved a $1.5 million budget for the parking lot in January, and agreed to keep it on the books during July budget discussions.
City Engineer Gary Heap said the consultant will begin working on the design in October. Three conceptual designs, along with their cost estimates, will be presented to the council and the public during a future meeting.
If approved, construction could begin in spring, according to Heap.
Heap said the design will include amenities such as electric vehicle charging stations, decorative lighting, bicycle parking and landscaping.
A portion of the city-owned property currently houses a vacant community garden, while the rest is an empty lot. Talks have been ongoing to move the garden to another location in the city.
Preliminary layouts show the property can handle roughly 130 parking spaces, Heap said. Some members of the council said they wanted to see more spaces, citing a 2019 report by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association that recommended more than 200 spots for the property.
One Gilroy resident called into the meeting, urging the council to decline the proposal, saying the city should spend the money to hire back some employees laid off during recent budget cuts.
Councilmember Dion Bracco said he was having a difficult time deciding which way to vote, adding that he’s never had a problem finding a place to park downtown.
“We’re spending a quarter of a million dollars to design a blacktop lot,” he said. “I’d hate to spend this kind of money to see it sitting there empty all the time.”
Councilmember Carol Marques said retrofit work on many downtown buildings is nearing completion, and once those buildings are filled, more vehicles are expected to be downtown.
“You can’t compare the parking we had 10 years ago to what we’re going to be needing in the future,” she said. “It is very important to have this parking lot to accommodate all those projects that are going online.”