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'No parking': Street parking advocates say they want options

The Wadena City Council expects to bring forth the topic again at their Oct. 11 meeting. That could be the first look at the ordinance by the public.

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Robert Jindra shovels snow off a southwest Wadena driveway.Photo by Dain Sullivan
Photo by Dain Sullivan
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WADENA — During a special city council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, a small crowd of residential property owners and rental owners assembled ready to share their thoughts on the topic of a proposed no winter parking ordinance. But no discussion was heard.

Mayor George Deiss stated at the start of the meeting that the “no parking” item on the agenda was for discussion only and that there would be no public comment taken at the meeting.

What the council briefly discussed was that they have been receiving word from locals about their feelings on the topic, though they did not comment on if they were supportive or opposed. Deiss handed sheets to the council members that apparently showed ordinances from about 20 other communities, many similar in size to Wadena that have developed ordinances related to parking and snow removal. Councilman Bruce Uselman shared his appreciation to those who have shared thoughts on the matter.

Deiss tasked the group to bring their recommendations to the October board meeting, tentatively set for Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. That could be the first reading of an ordinance, which would be a time for public comment.

Deiss went on to say that even if a new ordinance is not approved by the time the snow flies, the current ordinance of 24-hour parking on streets will be enforced.

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About eight of the individuals that appeared in the city chamber left the building following that brief discussion but assembled outside to further share their thoughts on the matter.

Overall, the concern from the group was that they did not appreciate having no options for parking on the street. Some shared that they do not have parking available at their home for a child to park anywhere but on the street. So no parking at night meant they could not allow the child to come home or live at home. Others said that the idea of asking property owners to clear their yards of snow and park cars in the yard would be distasteful.

City hopes the change to no parking lessens headaches and saves money.

Chief of Police Naomi Plautz, who sits on the committee looking at this new ordinance, heard the group’s concerns outside city hall and asked them if they would prefer an even/odd parking schedule. The entire group was quick to agree that the odd/even option at least gave them and their tenants an option to park. They felt that there was no adequate parking in areas where city parking lots do not exist. They felt that offering some parking and seeing how that worked was better than no parking. They also agreed that if the rule was not being followed, that enforcement should be taken, including towing of the vehicles.
This ordinance proposal was brought up in the last city council meeting because the city is attempting to resolve ongoing issues with clearing snow around vehicles that do not move off the streets and become a problem as snow piles up around them. Public Works staff have noted that the added work of working around these vehicles and cleaning up after them adds to the time it takes to clear Wadena of snow. The added work causes added expenses on the city.

Anyone can still contact city council members or city staff involved in the crafting of this ordinance to share thoughts on the topic prior to its passing.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at mjohnson@agweek.com or 218-640-2312.
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