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Parking becomes an issue

By Staff | Oct 12, 2009

With work underway on the Tenth and Moore streets street/sewer/water project, and the new United Hospital District (UHD) clinic building under construction, parking in the area has become a big issue.

So big, in fact, that it was a topic at both the Blue Earth City Council and Faribault County Commissioners meetings this past week.

A group of city residents who live near the UHD campus were at Monday’s city council meeting to register their concerns and ask what steps can be done to alleviate the problem.

Because the parking lots at UHD are being dug up to begin the construction of the new clinic, hospital employees are parking on the neighboring streets. Since the streets on the west side of the hospital are torn up, that leaves the area east of the hospital as the prime parking area.

Susan Roesler lives on Galbraith Street and acted as spokesperson for the eight residents who showed up at the council meeting.

“There are cars parked on both sides of the streets,” she says. “There isn’t room for two vehicles to pass on the street. The problem is a safety issue.”

Roesler was asked by Mayor Rob Hammond if she was asking for parking to be limited to one side of the street, and she said no.

“My request is that UHD employees, patients and visitors don’t park on these streets” she explains. “They should park further away and not congest one area.”

UHD Construction Manager Mark Mensing was also present at the council meeting and explained he is aware of the problem.

“We have asked the employees to park further away,” he says. “But, sometimes people get into a routine.”

Mensing also explains that by Thanksgiving the street work should be complete and they will also have two parking lots back in use, which should solve the problem.

In the meantime, Roesler and other residents had ideas to solve some of the problem.

One resident suggested parking near homes which are not occupied. Another suggested Ramsey Street as a good alternative.

Roesler wanted to know if it would be possible to use the Prairie Express Transit bus to ferry UHD employees back and forth from an off-site parking lot, such as the one by the Ag Center, where the clinic used to be located.

That idea must have been passed on to Faribault County Central Services Director Brenda Ripley, who also resides on Galbraith.

At Tuesday’s county commissioner meeting, Ripley proposed the idea to the county board.

She says they could offer a bus shuttle service to UHD, and charge them an amount such as $150 per day. The third bus could be used for the service.

Commissioner Tom Loveall said he agreed it could solve a problem for the hospital and residents in the area, but he would not support it if it was deemed a charter service.

“We were hauled on the carpet by the state for running a charter service with our busses, and I don’t want to go there again,” he says.

Loveall says they spent a lot of time developing a new transit policy, and he would not be in favor of anything that goes against the new policy.

“It is on a first call, first served reservation, so we need to keep to that system,” he says.

While commissioners Tom Warmka and Bill Groskreutz expressed support for the plan, Loveall said they need to proceed with caution.

The board said Ripley could approach UHD to see if a plan could be worked out that does not violate the transit policy. That proposal would need to be presented to the board at their next meeting.

Meanwhile, the residents in the area around UHD are hoping something will be done soon.

Mensing says he is well aware of the issue and is trying to fix the problem as best he can.

The Blue Earth police are also aware of it, and have issued at least one ticket for parking too close to a driveway entrance, Mensing says.