Friday, October 11, 2013

Street Committee opens dialogue for diagonal parking

By Elizabeth Morgan
The Street Committee met Oct. 2 in Council Chambers once again, to address downtown parking. The meeting opened with a bit of confusion, as Johnson Avenue was repeatedly and mistakenly referred to as Main Street, but as the meeting bore on, emotions grew tense, more information surfaced, and then...

It became clear that the wheels were in motion. It was the very dialogue that the dozen or so in attendance were waiting to hear. In fact, the discussion took a surprising turn in favor of further exploring the options for diagonal parking.

In the attempt to reduce further confusion and discord (there has been too much already), this article will focus on the new information brought out during the last meeting. This information caught the attention of more than a few council members to look closer into many of the merchants’ pleas for solutions other than timed parking, including diagonal parking.

Chief Jeff Wilson announced that he and Public Works Supervisor, John Barton had taken some measurements of Main and Johnson streets, which were 40 and 43 feet wide, respectively. This would allow diagonal parking on one side of the street only. They also discovered that for every car parked parallel to the curb, two vehicles could fit diagonally in the same space.

Wilson remarked that while no significant change would appear in the number of spaces, that those spaces that were available were much easier to access and utilize all of them, in spite of a person’s ability, or inability in this case, to park.

The problem with marked parallel parking is that some cars are more compact, requiring less than the 22-26 foot long space, taking up valuable space that could also be used for others to park. Just one badly parked vehicle can throw parking off right on up the block. The other problem was that marked parking still had to be monitored and enforced, when our police officers already have their hands full.

Teri Bolling commented that the truck route on Johnson Avenue was one of the concerns of diagonal parking and one-way streets. “Ask any truck driver and he’ll tell you the four way stop.” Why? “Because it’s easier and safer to enter Michigan.” This raised a few eyebrows and nods of agreement from the audience as well as the Chief of Police. It seems to be yet another reason to further explore the options.

From there, I witnessed the cooperation of everyone involved. More questions arose and still more dialogue came forth, but perhaps a meeting of the minds finally occurred. It was decided that having a plan on paper in front of the council was essential for the next meeting. It would then be possible to look at several options and how to resolve the issues at hand.

Merchants and residents of Orofino are invited and encouraged to attend this special meeting with any concerns or input. The Street committee and merchants and residents are all eager to have this issue resolved as soon as possible, to better serve all of Orofino.

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