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Alterations to Downtown Parking Rules in the Works

On Thursday evening, the Oskaloosa City Council met in a study session prior to the intended agenda meeting to follow. The council discussed many parking rules, ordinances, and fines that are in place now; including the 2-hour parking rule around much of the Oskaloosa downtown square. Some of these parking restrictions are due to traffic and parking availability issues during the day, as well as the city street sweeping on certain mornings. The square in downtown may soon see a change in parking restrictions within the next few months. These changes could include restricted parking — the Monday-Wednesday-Friday no parking restriction from 2 AM to 6 AM — as well as restrictions on business owners taking parking in the square.

Another topic of discussion during the study session of city council included that of new stop signs spawning around the downtown area to make a few intersections a little safer.The intersections of High Avenue and N. 2nd Street; High Avenue and N. 3rd Street; 1st Avenue and S. 2nd Street were the three main intersections discussed as being hazardous. The proposal of taking out parking spaces was on option that the council considered. But Akhilesh Pal, Director of City Works,  had address the council of his concerns for eliminating already scarce parking in the downtown area. Rather, the council agreed the intersections may soon be changed into four-way stop intersections.


Unconventional Invocation Evokes Comments at City Council

There was a large voice from the public, and even a few council members last night at the city council meeting.

“Tonight, as many of you have figured out,” Scott began. “I will not be invoking a higher power. Instead I will be pointing out some powers all of us have thanks to the wonder of human evolution. To do the most good, for the most number of people right here in beautiful Oskaloosa. I encourage everyone to harness these powers in every discussion invoked tonight.”

Justin Scott laid out the power to empathize with those different than you, taken a different path than you or experienced different struggles; power to embrace diversity in the community and seeing it as an opportunity to grow; to strive for inclusion in city government who works for all citizens; human power to demand justice within your city because we are all in one way minorities.

Scott noted that the chamber should not operate as merely a group of individuals looking out for themselves, but rather relying on one another while celebrating all that makes us different, yet all the same.

In Scott’s words, “Human power of attempting to do the most good, for the most number people is the best power any of us have.”

Scott’s invocation received many opinions from the public who address the council. Jim North stood at the podium and supported Scott, “it takes a brave and courageous person to speak in a hostile environment, and shed light on the hatred and fear that others experience when confronted with something they were taught to fear or hate.”

Another  public member, Jimmy Carter wanted to give the council and attendees a simple reminder of the Pledge of Allegiance noting that in the reciting it states we are “One Nation under God.” Carter also displayed a twenty-dollar bill and referenced that on the back of the bill was written, “In God We Trust”.

Council member Tom Walling also made his comment heard at the conclusion of the meeting: “I’ve already talked to Michael, [Schrock, City Manager] but I think he should have come to us and talked to us about who did our opening today.

Many public members had left the city council meeting as the agenda got underway. Scott also left before a comment could be made.


Oskaloosa City Council Discusses Golf Cart Ordinance

The Oskaloosa City Council met for their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening and discussed a few items that had little or no opposition.

Prior to the regular meeting, there was a study session regarding an amendment of the city ordinance regarding golf carts.

City Manager Michael Schrock explained that the city requires golf carts to be registered and insured to operate on Oskaloosa roads. He also said it has been an administrative burden and isn’t doing anyone any good since there have not been citations and has been difficult for some residents to get the proper insurance on their golf cart.

The ordinance has been in the city code since 2011 and there have not been any issues with golf carts on the roads and trails in that time frame. Currently, the state requires operators of a golf cart on city streets to have a driver’s license, a slow moving sign and an orange flag on the rear of the vehicle, and the cart can only be operated between sunrise and sunset.

The council agreed they could eliminate the city ordinance and adjust their traffic laws to include possible citations for violations with golf carts in the future.

In the regular meeting, the council heard from Jerry Bottenfield of Sheriff Avenue, who was concerned that the city council was not being as transparent as they should be with the proposed reconstruction of Sheriff Avenue.

Bottenfield explained that the residents on Sheriff Avenue have not been notified of the reconstruction project, nor do they want any sidewalks on their street. Bottenfield also produced two petitions with every resident along Sheriff having signed them.

After the meeting, Council Member Tom Walling explained that they were just in the beginning process of determining what they were planning to do with Sheriff Avenue, and the project was at least still two years away. He said that the public would have had plenty of opportunity to speak about the project prior to it being implemented in the future.

In the regular agenda, the council also discussed a proposal from Council Members Walling and Aaron Ver Steeg to add a Loading Zone to the west side of the square for truck deliveries from UPS, FedEx, and other companies. These trucks either use the alley on that side of the square or parked their truck in the middle of the street to still allow for two-way traffic.

The alley has been approved for a recreation project and can no longer be used, and Ver Steeg explained that it is a safety issue for traffic with the truck sitting in the middle of the road on Market Street, which is also Highway 63.

This item was simply to have the city staff look into a study to determine what parking space could serve as the Loading Zone, for what times the space would be unavailable to regular parking, and other items. This passed on a 5-2 vote, with Council Members Steve Burnett and Tom Jiminez voting against.

The next scheduled meeting of the Oskaloosa City Council is set for Monday, April 18, in Council Chambers in City Hall. The meeting will be called to order at 6 PM.


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