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It’s angle parking for downtown

By Staff | Oct 11, 2015

At Blue Earth’s City Council meeting last Monday evening, the vote was five to two in favor of double angle parking for the new Main Street project set for next summer.

Members of the community came to the meeting to voice their concerns about the parking decision, and ultimately, it was the community’s voice that weighed heavily on the council’s vote.

“If our community is saying they want diagonal parking, it is our job to listen to them,” said councilman Glenn Gaylord.

Before the vote, Mayor Rick Scholtes addressed a parking idea that would have favored a compromise in order to keep the project on schedule for completion.

“My recommendation moving forward is the diagonal parking on the east side of the street and parallel parking on the west side of the street,” said Scholtes.

“I think parallel parking on Main Street is dangerous,” said one member of the public. Others voiced their concerns about the number of stalls available to customers.

Scholtes explained to both the council and the public in attendance that the blocks north and south of the two blocks on Main Street were also currently parallel parking.

“And people have figured out how to park there. We were leary of the roundabouts in town, but we’ve adjusted,” said Scholtes. “And I think we will adjust to this, too.”

John Huisman agreed with Scholtes, stating to the council that with a compromise, community members would have the option to either angle park or parallel park.

Another concern was the safety of parallel versus diagonal parking.

“We’ve had angled parking for so long, I don’t recall anyone ever getting hurt that I know of because of the angled parking,” said Gaylord.

Another concern brought up was the width of the sidewalks. Whether there were narrower or wider sidewalks, both concerns were expressed by the public.

Dar Holmseth of the Active Living Coalition (ALC) stated to the City Council that it is important to take all modes of transportation into account, including pedestrians on sidewalks.

There has been discussion on the width of Main Street’s sidewalks as well as the parking.

City engineer Wes Brown laid out a plan for multiple city sidewalks and curb ramps that are compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA)’s standards.

As the debate weighed heavy on the council, Scholtes did remind both the council and the public that the Main Street project was on a very real timeline to be completed.

“We can all agree that Main Street looks pretty horrible right now, and we only have one chance to change that and make our Main Street look great, if we do this, we can’t go back and change it,” said Scholtes. “We need to work with the commissioners and our engineer and do the best we can to improve our town, because this chance to change things comes once in maybe 50 years.”

After further discussion between the councilmen, Gaylord made a formal motion to have angled parking on both sides of the street. That motion was then seconded by Russ Erichsrud.

Before a roll call vote was called, city attorney David Frundt asked for the individual councilmen’s reasonings behind their parking decision for liability purposes.

Frundt looked into four specific areas as to the council members’ reasons for their votes yay or nay. Those areas were for social purposes, economic purposes, political purposes and safety reasons.

“I’m just going to keep going back to what the people want,” said Gaylord. “They are the merchants and the taxpayers and this is what they want. They want diagonal parking.”

Once the roll vote was called, with a five to two in favor of double angle parking, the City Council left the ultimate deciding vote in the hands of the county commissioners.

The next step for the council is to work with Brown and complete the design phase. Once the design is complete, a meeting will be held for the public in the month of November.