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Seeing the irony in parking issues

By Staff | Feb 23, 2014

Does anyone else find it ironic that Blue Earth Area students were once going to have last Monday off for the Presidents Day holiday, then were not because it was going to be a ‘snow day’ makeup, but in the end they had the day off anyway, because of another snowstorm?

Now that snow day on a makeup snow day will, of course, have to be made up later in the year. As will several others as the snow continues this winter.

Or, how about this observation?

Does anyone else find it to be ironic that the city of Blue Earth is in charge of the decisions for the streets which surround the Faribault County Courthouse, but it is the county which makes the decisions for downtown Blue Earth’s Main Street?

It’s true.

Second Street, which runs on the north side of the courthouse, will be reconstructed this summer as part of a city of Blue Earth street project.

Two blocks of Main Street in downtown Blue Earth will be reconstructed next summer as part of a county highway project.

Second Street is a city street. Main Street is a county/state aid highway. The city pays for the work on Second Street (with help from assessments to local property owners); the county pays for the work on Main Street (with help from state highway funds).

It is a little confusing, admittedly.

Ironically, the issue facing both projects at the current moment is parking.

The county commissioners would like to keep as many parking spaces as possible on the block of Second Street by the courthouse. Many downtown business owners want to keep as many parking spaces on Main Street as possible. In fact, both groups would like to have just as many parking slots as they have now.

That may or may not be possible.

In the case of Second Street, the street width would need to be widened by eight feet, which would encroach into the boulevard area of the homes on the north side of the street and cause some trees to be removed.

The County Board decided to tell the City Council their preference is to keep the street at its current 52-foot width. That will mean fewer parking spaces as the current layout of diagonal parking on both sides of the street will no longer be possible under state regulations.

Even if the block was widened to 60 feet to keep diagonal parking on both sides, there would be four fewer spaces due to state regulations on parking.

Downtown faces much the same scenario. Even if the street could still have diagonal parking, some spaces would be lost due to regulations for width of spaces, how close they can be to the intersection and space for handicap parking spots.

However, state regulations may make it difficult to continue to have diagonal parking on both sides of the Main Street.

Plus, if any type of ‘streetscape’ work to make the downtown more attractive is done, it would probably affect the number of parking stalls as well. (And there are many of us who are hoping the construction project can include some ‘sprucing up’ and ‘greening up’ of the downtown area.)

Ironically, once again, ideas for solutions to the parking issue on both streets are the same.

There might have to be parallel parking instead of diagonal. Or parallel on one side, diagonal on the other. Another idea is to build some more parking lots, both by the courthouse and by downtown. Vacant lots would be the logical choice to turn into a parking area.

Or, in a bold move, one idea is to make that one block of Second and the two blocks of Main one-way streets which would free up plenty of space to keep diagonal parking on both sides.

Ironically, businessmen at a Main Street project ‘listening session’ held last Wednesday said Blue Earth’s Main Street once was a one-way street many years ago. They were not sure why it had been one way, or why it went back to being two way.

Perhaps that is as good a solution to the parking issue as any.

Sure, it would take some getting use to.

But, heck, we managed to learn how to drive on roundabouts, didn’t we?