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City will study Gallatin Street parking limit again

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Vandalia’s mayor has asked a city council committee to again study the two-hour parking restriction on Gallatin Street.

Rick Gottman turned that matter over to the council’s streets and sewers committee after a downtown developer complained about a parking ticket.

The discussion on the issue started when Dennis Grubaugh told city officials that he received a ticket for parking on Gallatin Street overnight while staying in an apartment in one of his downtown projects.

Grubaugh said that he understands the reasoning for two-hour parking on Gallatin Street during the day, agreeing that merchants and their employees should keep parking spaces open for customers.

But he doesn’t see the need for having the restriction in place at night, when businesses are closed. Also, he said, that restriction doesn’t make sense in light of Vandalia Main Street’s support for the development of living spaces in upper stories of downtown buildings.

And, Grubaugh said, after getting the parking ticket, he moved his vehicle around the corner onto Sixth Street, in front of the Full Moon Bar & Grill. “That actually inconvenienced his (Fred Tessman’s) business,” Grubaugh said.

“I would like to see the city consider changing (the parking restriction),” Grubaugh said, explaining that with that restriction in place, people living in downtown buildings have to park some distance from their living quarters.

“We are trying to do something for the downtown,” Grubaugh said, talking about renovation projects that he and other developers have taken on.

He has made apartments on the second story of the Easterday building, which is located at the western end of the 500 block of West Gallatin Street, and told the council that he plans to create nine lofts apartments in other buildings in that same block.

Gottman said he feels it’s worth taking a look at the issue.

“We probably need to sit down and look at this,” Gottman said. “He brings up some good concerns.”

The city implemented a two-hour parking restriction on Gallatin Street in 1981, and initially included in that restriction the one-block sections north and south of Gallatin on Fourth and Fifth streets.

The city has been asked a number of times to consider changes to the law, including a couple of times within the past couple of years.

Vandalia Main Street Program officials did ask city officials to consider allowing for nighttime parking on Gallatin Street after hosting a public meeting on converting upper floors of downtown buildings into loft apartments.

Some downtown merchants have also approached the city about the issue. At a public meeting, those merchants asked that the city either enforce the law (particularly during the day) or take it off the books.

Whenever the issue has been discussed, Public Works Director John Moyer opposed lifting the restriction during the evenings, contending that parked vehicles cause problems with the operation of city snowplows and street sweeper.

Grubaugh said he understands that, but said the city could take care of that problem by posting signs that designate Gallatin Street as a snow route. Those who park overnight on Gallatin Street, he conceded, would have to move their vehicles or run the risk of having them towed, at their expense.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• The council approved an agreement with Hurst-Roche Engineers of Hillsboro for engineering services for water and sewer main extensions along West Main Street in the western Interstate 70 interchange.

The engineering work is being done because Sloan’s, which recently purchased the John Deere dealership in Vandalia, plans to build a new facility in the area of Wal-Mart and Vandalia Tractor Sales.

Gottman said the city is in the process of applying for state and federal grant funds to help pay for the water and sewer extensions.

• The council approved a resolution allowing for the publication of an annexation ordinance in The Leader-Union.

The city is considering annexing up to 60 acres of land along Rock Island Avenue between Jefferson and Fillmore streets. The owners of those properties are George Petta, Kerry Stein and Jody Blackwell.

• The council approved a change order that expands the infrastructure work being done in the downtown business district.

The change order includes the replacement of a manhole at Seventh and Gallatin streets, the replacement of sewer main runs to the north and west of that intersection (including two new manholes) and the replacement of 20 feet of the sewer line south of the intersection.

The contract price for the work, incorporating the change order, is $185,380.

• The council approved the bid from Arthur Young Inc. for two new squad cars for the police department. Young’s bid, the lowest of two received by the city, was $20,131.20.

Police Chief Larry Eason, who said that the department has six vehicles that are at least eight years old, said that Young’s bid is $193 per vehicle higher than the state bid price, but that state-bid vehicles would only be available from a dealer in Decatur.

Gottman added that the city would be paying much more in maintenance expenses if it bought the vehicles from the Decatur dealership.

• In her report, JoAnn Givens reported that Vandalia’s Looking for Lincoln brochures are drawing rave reviews from other communities and from the state’s Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition.

In fact, she said, the fact that other towns may use the same prototype for their brochures could result in those communities sharing the design fees. Givens said coalition officials showed off Vandalia’s design prototype at a recent LFL meeting.

• The council agreed to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. this Thursday at the Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus to review a development proposal.

• The council observed a moment of silence for three individuals – long-time merchant Delmar Robertson; Marcia Barrish, the daughter of city employee Linda Townsend; and John Spitler, a former St. Elmo mayor and alderman.

• The council received the monthly report from Code Officer Keith Meadows, which includes docket entries showing two citations being issued to a long-time violator of city ordinances. Another docket entry shows that the city administration has instructed Meadows to continue issuing tickets to the violator, who is a city employee, until “the entire property (on West Edwards Streets) is free of violations.”

Records in the office of Fayette County Circuit Clerk Mary Sue Ruot show 12 citations being issued for this property.