A topic at many city council meetings within the past two months has been the issue centered around parking in the city, specifically in the downtown square. On Monday, September 5th, the Oskaloosa City Council opened the floor for public comments where five residents stepped forward.
Each of those that made comments owned businesses around the square and were in attendance at the meeting to share their thoughts about the changes that council intends to make regarding the regulations that are currently in place.
Julie Wells, owner of Julie’s Cafe on S. Market, stepped forward first and addressed her concern with the council.
“We’re concerned with the two-hour parking. The concern that 72-hours, that it would go to if you got rid of the 2-hours, would be too long,” Wells stated while in attendance with her husband Terry.
This is not Wells’ first time addressing the council about their plans to alter the parking regulations. As she has was before the mayor and council members a month ago on August 7.
Other business owners also approached the council: Debbie Sedrel from Merle Norman Cosmetics; Glenda Booy from True Value; Brian Meyers from Brown Shoe Fit; and Jerry Slobe with Timeless Treasures.
“I talked to five business owners today,” Slobe said as he addressed the city council, “and they were all opposed to taking the signs down.”
The aforementioned businesses were Brown Shoe Fit, Taso’s Steakhouse, Big Ed’s BBQ, True Value and MidWestOneThree.
After hearing from the public, the council began the regular agenda. One of the last items in the agenda was the consideration of parking regulations and two-hour central business district parking. The council quickly came to an agreement on the third and fourth piece, but had questions themselves regarding the first and second piece.
Councilman Doug Yates, noted that the decision to enforce or not was a split decision after the community had been surveyed.
Tom Walling had mentioned that the city, “only got five complaints in a year. Yet we heard five complaints tonight, easy.”
The initial idea was to take all of the parking signs down to reduce the number in downtown, however, realized it was too costly and unnecessary. Other questions arose about enforcing the limits and regulations.
City Manager, Michael Schrock, suggested that they do sporadic enforcement. Once or twice a month sometimes more or less to transition to consistently enforcing the limits.
After nearly a half hour discussion on the item, the council came to an agreement after some advice from Police Chief Jake McGee.
“I think two hours is too short, that’s based off my experience from the people that get tickets. ”
With Chief McGee’s experience over the years, he knows that visitors – or the average shoppers – are the ones that normally get ticketed. Because the normal offenders know when enforcement goes out to chalk and the call goes around, most vehicles get moved.
When asked by Mayor David Krutzfeldt, Chief McGee said that most cities around Oskaloosa have three-hour parking rules.
In conclusion, the city council agreed to move the two-hour parking limit to a three-hour limit starting at 9 AM until 5 PM.
This is, however, only the first reading of the regulation changes. Yates would like the public to voice their thoughts about this change as the next month progresses and the city council finishes the reading of the changes to parking.