Council tables Hwy. 23 parking ban again

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 03/04/97.

One item on a relatively light agenda generated a lot of discussion, a parking ban on Highway 23. At the Paynesville City Council meeting Wednesday night, the public works committee brought recommendations to the council concerning the parking ban. Several business owners attended the committee meeting to voice their opinions.

Recommendations were:
ē Make the alley between Highway 23 and James Street (behind Jerryís Jack and Jill) no exit to Highway 23.

ē Make the alleys between Highway 23 and Mill, between Washburne and Augusta (between the American Legion and Lakedale Telephone) and between Washburne and Koronis (Pianoís Plus and Vern Johnson Motors south lot), no exit to Highway 23.

ēBan parking 65 feet east from the alley behind city hall on the north side of Highway 23 in front to Vern Johnson Motors. This would leave one parking spot on the highway just west of their west driveway.

ēBan parking 30 feet west of the alley behind Jack and Jill on the north side of Highway 23, in front of Jimmyís Pizza, Ruthieís Hair Design and Burr Barber Shop. This would leave three parking spaces in front of this complex.

Police Chief Bill Drager felt the recommendations did not solve the safety issue and still pushed for a total parking ban from Highway 124 to Augusta Avenue.

Dick Johnson, Vern Johnson Motors, said he can live with the compromise. He suggested that doing it this way will give the highway a chance to work, and changes can always be made later, if necessary.

Councilmember Dave Peschong said once the turning lanes are painted and used, there will not be room to open car doors. Councilmember Dennis Zimmerman felt there would be more room during nonwinter months. Peschong disagreed. As he was driving to the council meeting, there was a car parked in front of the phone company and even though they were on the curb (no snow blocking the way), they were still on the white line or literally parking in the street.

City Administrator Dennis Wilde reminded the council that another thing to consider with the summer months, comes heavier traffic.

Peschong voiced his concern about enforcing ďno exitĒ alleys. Mayor Jeff Thompson asked Chief Drager if he was prepared to enforce ďno exitĒ from the alleys. He replied if they were posted, they would enforce the ruling. Peschong felt it would be an unenforceable law.

Councilmember Harlan Beek asked when the parking problem started. Chief Drager replied when the turning lanes were added.

Johnson feels that it will take just a little time for people to adjust to the ďno exitĒ alleys. ďThe citizens adjusted when the stop signs were changed and are getting used to the stop light,Ē he added.

Johnson asked Chief Drager why he hadnít gotten a record on the number of accidents as requested. Drager responded, ďHow many accidents are necessary before we take care of this problem?Ē Johnson asked why the road was widened and a traffic light put make it safer. Yet the council is saying the road is less safe.

Wilde reminded those present the highway was designed for traffic going through town and not for the residents of Paynesville.

Peter Carlson, SEH engineer, suggested that when MnDOT paints the lines this spring, they move the center turn lane over two or three feet to the south to give the city more parking room on the north side of the highway and eliminate parking on the south side. Ron Mergen, public works director, said he would check into this with MnDOT. Chief Drager pointed out the city would still have to address the visibility problem at the alleyways.

A decision on the parking ban was tabled to a later date.

In other business, Carlson explained the feasibility report for the 1997 west end lift station improvement. The station was built to service a residential area only and not meant to handle the capacity of the development in the airport area.

Carlson recommended the existing lift station be removed and replaced with a duplex submersible type lift station. Total estimated cost for the new lift station is about $66,365.

ēPolice Chief Bill Drager submitted his resignation to the council effective May 21. Wilde informed the council that according to procedure, this opening is posted for 30 days to give anyone with the city a chance to apply for this position.

Upon his retirement, Drager agreed to serve as the new emergency services director.

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