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Wells parking lot raises questions

By Staff | Sep 30, 2016

“What’s the deal with the parking lot in back of Musser and True?Value?”

That was what Milt Peterson, a concerned citizen of Wells, asked his City Council during their regular meeting earlier this month on Sept. 12.

His concern came from a previous Wells City Council meeting when United Hospital District president Rick Ash addressed the council with plans to improve the parking lot at the UHD?Clinic located in Wells.

According to the Wells City Council minutes, Ash addressed UHD’s plans to improve the parking lot by reducing pavement and managing traffic in the area of the clinic.

The minutes state that Ash had the property surveyed and that UHD?would be creating a separation from the alley to prevent non-clinic parking and truck traffic to prevent liability and wear and tear issues.

This parking lot in Wells caused a lot of discussion at a recent council meeting.

For citizens like Peterson, however, this was not good news. Peterson’s concern came from the use of the parking area on evenings and weekends, when Wildcat’s Bar and Grill causes heavy use.

City administrator Robin Leslie addressed citizens like Peterson, saying due to estimates, UHD offered a part of the parking lot to the city.

“The public works committee looked at the area and figurations because UHD?said they needed about 20 parking spaces,” said Leslie. “Once you figure those spaces, there is not much leftover so it was not a benefit to the city.”

Leslie told Peterson in the public comment portion of the Sept. 12 meeting that the city could have gotten a possible five extra parking spaces out of the negotiation.

“But that’s down by the liquor store, which we already have a huge amount of parking there anyway,” said Leslie. “It really wasn’t going to help people on Main Street.”

Peterson’s largest concern was the loss of opportunity for the city of Wells.

“Why didn’t the city go ahead and do something to benefit the businesses in Wells?”

Peterson was told UHD’s parking space is private property and any use of tax dollars to improve private property is illegal.

Peterson’s frustration stems from the lack of action by both the city administrator and the council to approve the added five parking spots for public use.

However, Leslie stated to Peterson during the City Council meeting that the cost to have the five parking spots repaved and maintained would cost more than the use of the parking spots themselves.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it being offered to be deeded over,” said council member David Braun.

Leslie informed both the council and the citizens in attendance that the space in question is a strip of the connecting alleyway that leads to a five-parking-space area down by the Wells Liquor Store.

“We don’t really need more public parking down by the liquor store. We have plenty of parking down there. People are still going to use the parking lot,” said Leslie.

UHD’s largest concern, according to Leslie, is the liability issues when people who are not patients of the clinic use the parking lot in the condition it is currently in.

“If someone happens to stumble and fall, that is a liability UHD?does not want to take. That is why we put the signs up that say ‘UHD parking only’,” said Leslie who added that permanent signs to the parking lot would be up soon.

Leslie told Peterson people would still be able to park there at night, reiterating that the hospital wanted to restrict semi-truck traffic in that lot because it had broken down some of the pavement.

“You have to do a cost benefit analysis for what the city taxpayers would pay and what the benefit would be to the city and the public works committee did not feel there was enough of a benefit,” Leslie stated.