Parking draws lengthy debate

After lengthy debate during both a committee meeting and the regular council meeting on Monday night, the Vandalia City Council approved action related to parking in the 200 block of South Second Street.

The council, acting upon complaints of the Redwood Inn owners, agreed to have parking space lines painted along the east side on the north end of that block, adjacent to the new vehicle display lot created by Arthur Young Inc.

Lisa and Albert Doyle initially complained to the streets and sewers committee that the construction of the lot resulted in the loss of a parking area that had been used by Redwood customers. As the discussion continued, they also voiced concerns about the city giving money to the dealership for its project.

Aldermen told the Doyles that Redwood customers could parallel park alongside the new lot, but they argued that the project reduced the number of parking spaces by up to five.

At issue is whether the dealership can put vehicles on the portion of the lot that lies in the city right of way.

I have a problem with the city utilizing right of way for personal gain (by Arthur Young Inc.), Lisa Doyle said. Thats wrong, wrong, wrong.

Director of Public Works John Moyer said the parking space that was available prior to the dealership project was specifically businesses along the 100 block of West Gallatin Street, and since those businesses are gone, he said, the spaces are no longer needed.

But Lisa Doyle argued that that was like saying that spaces in front of First National Bank are solely for customers of that business.

When it was pointed out that Redwood customers can use the parking spaces in the Old Capitol Shopping Center, Albert Doyle said, They can right now, but that could change tomorrow.

Lisa Doyle said that the lack of parking is a problem, and that she doesnt like that the idea that some parking has been lost to help a business.

The Doyles said they didnt feel it was right that the city gave the dealership TIF (Tax Increment Financing) monies to build the lot, and aldermen clarified that TIF monies were given for the demolition of buildings.

Moyer said Arthur Young Inc. did not come to me for money for improvements, like a lot of others have. They paid for the improvements themselves.

Arriving early for the regular council meeting, Alderwoman Lisa McNutt sided with the Doyles on the issue. I think it is public parking.

Alderman Bret Brosman, chairman of the streets and sewers committee, said, We are not officially giving them (Arthur Young Inc.) 100 percent of our right of way.

But McNutt said, But if theyre going to leave cars there, we basically are. I should be able to park my car there.

McNutt also contended that once the city decided to allow a business to use the right of way, the Doyles were not approached.

Lisa Doyle asked who gave the dealership permission to build the lot across the right of way, and Moyer said he did.

They spent their own money for improvements on city property, Moyer said. It was a bonus.

Aldermen Chad Feldpouch told the Doyles, I see your point. I agree with John (Moyer) also; it is a big improvement.

At one point, the discussion was headed to not allowing anyone to use the section of the lot on the right of way. Feldpouch disagreed with taking that action.

Were going to change all of this (regarding parking on city right of way) because a business lost maybe two parking spaces, he said.

At the close of the meeting, there was a consensus that the issue could be resolved by painting parking spaces along both sides of the block. The Doyles confirmed that most people dont know that they can park along the street in that area.

The resolution was lost as the matter came before the council for a vote.

As the discussion was initiated, a consensus on the street not being wide enough for parking on both sides was quickly reached.

The council decided to have parking spaces painted on only the east side the street on the north end of that block.

Also at the committee meeting, City Administrator Jimmy Morani said there are at two areas of town where unimproved alleys are being rutted up by people driving through those areas during extremely wet periods.

It may be just an isolated incident, because weve had a very wet spring, Morani said. But its something to think about.

Moyer said that in the past, it hasnt been much of an issue. Most people have been considerate (in the past). Thats not the way it is anymore.

Mayor Rick Gottman said he believes that whoever rutted (it) should repair it; if they dont we fix it and send them a bill.

The committee did not pass on a recommendation to the council.

As this matter was handled, the discussion again shifted to the parking of vehicle on city right of way.

Gottman said he is troubled by vehicles being parked on the right of way because of what the traffic is doing to the land.

Noting that this is a problem on North Fifth Street and along a section of Randolph Street, Gottman said the vehicle are killing grass and leaving muddy areas. Its very unsightly.

This may be a matter, he said, that could be handled by the police department.

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