2-hour parking expands in downtown Wadena

While some oppose the recent addition of two-hour parking, several business owners are asking for more.

2-hour parking edit.png
Green shaded areas indicate where two-hour parking initially started in downtown Wadena. The outlined area indicates where the new two-hour parking area has been added. The blue areas indicate where public parking exists.
Contributed graphic
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WADENA — Two-hour parking for downtown Wadena was approved in spring 2021 but signage did not come in to be installed until spring 2022.

Since the installation, the apparent changes have been noticed and felt by many regular users of the downtown area.

At first, calls came in that the change was going to hurt downtown business. Some others shared their support of the change, that it would actually help downtown business.

The idea for two-hour parking came from several downtown business owners who noticed parking spots being used by non-shoppers – all day long.

“Business owners approached the city about this change initially because there were either business owners, employees or apartment tenants that were taking up limited parking in downtown,” according to Interim City Administrator David Evans.


Wadena Mayor George Deiss spent some time watching what would happen after signs went up and was pleased with the results. He noted that during the day, parking spots were available. On the weekend and in the evening, downtown Wadena streets were full. In his eyes, the change was doing what it intended, it was opening up parking to those who want to come shop in Wadena. It did not appear to be chasing away shoppers.

If a parking violation complaint is received, an officer will respond, mark the vehicle and take appropriate action afterwards.

Wadena’s Chief of Police Naomi Plautz reminded in a previous social media post that the police department will not be out looking for violators. It is complaint driven. The coffee drinker looking to catch up with friends is not the target. There will be no "meter maid." Once a complaint is fielded it will take some time to do some investigative work and have a vehicle moved.

Interim city administrator David Evans shared that the changes could have been better relayed to the community but after waiting so long for the signage to come in, it sort of slipped his mind by the time they finally made it up.

He added that the intention of these signs are to curb the use of downtown parking for those not patronizing downtown businesses. It is not meant to discourage downtown shopping, rather improve it.

While the council and two downtown business owners in attendance at the Tuesday, April 11 meeting spoke in favor of the two-hour parking, Deiss brought up possible changes to it. The council was favorable to a change which was approved to make the two-hour parking limit effective 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday of the week. No one voiced opposition to this idea.

Other ideas of increasing the limit to three hours or Monday through Friday were heard but not acted on.

Councilman Mark Lunde said that those businesses that would benefit from a longer parking time frame, such as the theater or restaurants and bars are those that are perhaps busiest after 5 p.m.

A sign reading, "2 hour parking, this side of the street."
New parking signs in downtown Wadena add a limit of two hours as of March 2022.
Contributed / Wadena Police Department

“With no limit you could literally park there for 8-10 hours a day and you could block my front parking the entire day,” Lunde said theoretically as he does not own a business in the affected area.


Councilman Jessie Gibbs, in agreement, said that if there is not an easy to find parking spot, the out-of-town traffic will keep on driving.

“People from out of town are not going to look for the several city parking lots,” Gibbs said. “I think this helps with out-of-town traffic significantly.”

Lunde added that the city could do a better job of signage to let people know about the six public parking lots within a block of downtown Wadena.

“There are a ton of parking spots downtown,” Lunde said.

The council not only stood firm on two-hour parking there, they took the limit further and expanded to another block of Jefferson Street from Colfax to Dayton Ave. This change was brought forth at the request of more business owners. Signage was initially installed from Aldrich Ave. to Colfax Ave. and from First Street SE to First Street SW, a two block by two block area.

So the parking limits now are in place for three blocks of Jefferson with limits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will be enforced even though signage for this change could be many months from being installed. Public Works director Dan Kovar shared that adding another placard that notes the hours of limited parking can be added. The city may need a taller post as MnDOT regulates the height of signs along their roadways.

He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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