Council looks at fewer restrictions for city parking during winter months

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Initially they were looking at an all-out ban on parking between 2 a.m. – 6 a.m., from Nov. 1 through April 1.

Paul Reuvers, the attorney representing the city in Robin Hensel’s lawsuit, cautioned the Council Sept. 3, against restricting parking on every street in the city, during the Council’s discussion.

Jerry Lochner, the city’s public works supervisor, offered an alternative to an all-out ban Monday, pointing out that traffic is heaviest on roads considered state aid highways. The Council could approve a ban on parking on these streets during the winter. An option for the remainder of the streets in the city, would be to go with an odd/even day parking ban.

Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem didn’t care for the odd/even system, since that meant it would take city crews two days to plow, as opposed to the one day it takes now during a normal snowfall.

Council Member Jeremy Hanfler said it’s obvious at times that cars haven’t been moved in more than 24 hours, since there are no tracks leading away or snow is still on the vehicle’s roof. Vehicles parked on city streets must be moved at least once within a 24-hour time frame.

City Administrator Dan Vogt suggested the city go with a parking ban on the streets within the state aid highway system this season, to see how it goes.

City streets that are considered part of the state aid highway system include the majority of the streets in downtown Little Falls.

Council Member Frank Gosiak brought up the idea of having an automated message system for city residents, to let them know when city streets would be plowed and to have their vehicles off the street. This idea came from the schools’ system of notifying parents when school has been cancelled and events cancelled.

Problematic is how the city would get phone numbers from residents so they could be put into the system. The staff will look into the cost of such a system to bring before the Council.

Little Falls Council Briefs


In other business Monday, the Little Falls Council:

• Learned the city’s ISO rating dropped from 5 to 4. Insurance premiums may decrease due to the lower rating. City Administrator Dan Vogt pointed out that only 103 cities in the state are rated at Class 4, only 39 in Class 3 and none in Class 1 and 2. He congratulated the Fire Department, Public Works and staff for the new rating classification. ISO collects information on municipal fire-protection efforts in communities throughout the U.S. and analyzes the relevant data using a fire suppression rating schedule. It then assigns public protection classifications from 1 – 10 and shares that information with insurance companies;

• Learned Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem is setting up a Facebook page for the city;

• Approved with a 7-1 vote to have Council President Don Klinker, the mayor and City Administrator Dan Vogt establish agendas for the meetings. Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder voted no;

• Approved the low bid of Tri-City Paving ($113,246.50) for overlay work on Seventh Avenue Southeast between First and Sixth Streets Southeast; Sixth Street Southeast from Buck Lane to Fifth Avenue; all of Buck Lane and the alleys in Block 45 and 46. The other bid came from Anderson Brothers in Brainerd ($155,444.50). The staff’s estimate for the project was $107,010;

• Heard resident Robin Hensel outline her and Theresa Skorseth’s concerns about the lack of accessibility for disabled persons in the city, including city buildings;

• Approved the annexation of Lot 9, Riverwood Addition;

• Adopted upon the Planning Commission’s recommendation ordinance no. 49, sixth series, allowing bed and breakfast establishments in one and two family residential (R-1) zoning districts, by conditional use;

• Approved a variance for Jim Gritzmacher to erect an accessory building on a nonconforming lot for Central Minnesota Door Service, at 1712 Mary Ann Avenue;

• Approved a conditional use permit for Doug Mielke of Bluesky Midwest, Little Falls, to allow storage of lubricants and related products for recycling at 1019 Paul Larson Memorial Dr.;

• Approved a conditional use permit as requested by Earl LeMieur, to operate a well drilling office, known as Cascade Drilling L.P. on property located at 209 LeMieur St.;

• Approved a preliminary and final plat for Thomas and Sharon Meschke on property located near the intersection of Hilton Road and Thomas Drive, as well as a variance for a 40-foot by 60-foot accessory structure on the property;

• Approved a snow removal agreement with Robert LeMieur Snow Service Inc. at a rate of $70 per hour per truck for the 2013-14 snow season; $72 per hour per truck for the 2014-15 season and $74 per hour per truck for 2015-16. The city will also pay the difference if gas exceeds $4 per gallon. Public Works Director Jerry Lochner said Pierz and Long Prairie pay higher rates for snow removal, despite the businesses contracted with using smaller trucks;

• Approved an agreement with Greg Kimman of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. to provide cost estimates, project phasing and rendering of the park complex for the project known as Prairie Drive Park Complex. The funds will come from the money raised by the Mayor’s Youth Task Force; and

• Authorized engineering services from Bolton and Menk Inc. regarding improvements to the West Little Falls tennis courts, with the cost not to exceed $1,000;

The next regular Little Falls City Council meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.