Partial parking ban approved by city council

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 03/18/97.

Parking on Highway 23 and Paynesville Township police protection contract were the two main topics of discussion at the Paynesville City Council meeting Wednesday night.

The council has discussed the parking ban issue for a couple of months. The public works committee and several business owners along Highway 23 had made four recommendations to the council at their last meeting.

New parking ban
*Make the alley between Highway 23 and James Street (behind Jerryís Jack and Jill) no exit to Highway 23.
*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.
*Ban parking 60 feet east from the alley behind city hall on the north side of Highway 23 in front of Vern Johnson Motors. This would leave one parking spot on the highway just west of Johnsonís west driveway.
*Ban parking 30 feet east of the alley behind Jack and Jill on the north side of Highway 23. This would leave three parking spaces in front of Jimmyís Pizza, Ruthieís Hair Design and Burr Barber Shop.

Also at that time it was suggested the turning lanes on Highway 23 be shifted to the south, allowing more parking room on the north side. This would have eliminated parking on the south side of Highway 23.

Ron Mergen, public works director, contacted MnDOT about shifting the traffic lanes. It could be done, but the city would have to cover the costs of moving the four magnetic strips under the highway. This would cost about $2,000. Mayor Jeff Thompson asked the council if the city was willing to spend the additional $2,000 which would not solve the safety issue.

ďWe have three different options to consider: low risk, the complete parking ban; mid risk, partial parking ban or lane shift; or a high level of risk, leave as is,Ē Thompson outlined. ďThe question is which option benefits the economic impact, the convenience to customers and common sense.Ē

Jim Ochs, Jimmyís Pizza, said he did not see the problem. The stop light slowed down the traffic flow and alleviated some of the danger.

Tom Burr, Burrís Barber Shop, said there is danger no matter where you go, that is a constant factor when a person drives. He did not see a problem as he has not seen any accident at the intersection in the many years his business has been on the corner.

Council member David Peschong asked how many parking spots would be lost with a total parking ban and how many with the committees recommendations. Mergen replied, with a total ban, 27 parking spots would be eliminated. With a partial ban, five or six.

The council approved the committees recommendations for the partial ban. At the next meeting a resolution will be made to activate the ban.

Township police contract
Negotiations started in February for the township police contract for 1997. The present contract expires April 11. Prior to the council meeting, negotiations had broken off after the township officers failed to attend the last scheduled meeting.

The original proposal from the city, computed the same as last year, showed the township share for police coverage was $41,447 of the $214,753 police budget. The township is billed on the number of hours served in the township, 19.3 percent of the total hours. A revised proposal, amortizing the two new squad cars and the new computer system, showed the township share at $35,525.

The township board suggested cutting back on the number of hours the department provided protection to the township. On March 3, the city received a proposal from the township of $32,400 or $2,700 a month.

Township supervisor John Atwood commented on the negotiations. He said at one time the township was paying $17,000 per year, then agreed to $25,000 and then a $30,000 contract for two years.

ďAll we see is an uphill climb. We are also charged $80,000 from the county for protection and not getting any benefit from it. Put the two figures together and the township pays $112,000 a year for police protection,Ē Atwood told the council.

ďWe checked with the county and Paynesville Township is considered an urban township with a population of about 1,400. We receive only $4,323 in local government aid and the city receives $244,387,Ē Atwood cited. ďWe donít have the money that you have to work with. We spend everything we get. At our annual meeting we levied the same amount as last year. We levy for fire protection, general fund, snow removal and roads and bridges. We donít have a separate levy for police protection,Ē Atwood added.

After further discussion, Dennis Zimmerman, council member, made a motion that the city reject the township proposal at this time. ďI donít see any reason why the city should subsidize services to the township,Ē he said. ďOur proposal is based on actual expenses.Ē The full council approved rejecting the proposal and sent the committee back to negotiations.

Park update
Ron Mergen, public works director, informed the council the park committee has two recommendations for this summer. The first one is for a concession stand and the other a lookout tower at the Veteranís Park on Lake Koronis.

On March 26, representatives from Stearns Benton Employment Training Council will outline the concession stand package to the council. Mergen said their work force center will build the concession stand and employ the workers. The only expense the city would have is the cost of materials to build the stand and the tower. The 28-foot high tower would be located on top of the hill above the bathrooms.

The park committee is also looking at their five-year improvement plans. So far they are talking about completing a bike trail from Paynesville to the Veterans Park, the possibility of a fishing pier, community swimming pool, new park shelters and if the former Vanís Beach resort should go up for sale, should the city purchase it and add it to the park.

Mergen asked for input from the council on anything that should be added to the plan.

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