By Terry Lehrke, News Editor
Discussion regarding odd/even day restricted parking in Little Falls during the winter months brought about more questions than answers.
“What if two odd days fall consecutively, such as Dec. 31 and Jan. 1?”
“What if someone parks on the correct side of the street at 8 p.m. and after midnight, they are parked on the wrong side of the street?”
Added to that, streets in Little Falls aren’t numbered consistently — in most communities, said Public Works Director Jerry Lochner, streets go east and west and avenues go north and south. But in Little Falls, even numbers in southeast Little Falls are on the right (west side) of the road, but in northeast Little Falls, the even numbers are on the left (east side) of the road.
So too, cul de sacs and dead-end roads at an angle would mean a driver would plow going in, but not coming out, Lochner said.
City Administrator Dan Vogt asked other cities about experiences with the odd/even system.
Several responses from other cities were less than positive about odd/even parking systems.
One city manager, Bill Craig, responded, “When I was in Hopkins, we tried the odd/even method around 1980 and for whatever reason it was unpopular … Oddly enough, what did work was an absolute ban on parking until plowed. Everybody figured out where to go then and I think they still use it.”
Kelcey Klemm from Perham said, “We went away from odd/even — it’s a nightmare to keep track of and doesn’t solve the problem of having to plow twice. We went to a straight snow emergency (2-inches) and then get your cars off the street.”
In Bemidji, the odd/even parking system is used, with vehicles needing to be parked on the appropriate side of the road by 8 p.m. – midnight the night before.
Lochner offered one solution — the city could put “no parking” signs up when snow needs to be plowed or removed.
Council Member Greg Zylka suggested the city identify key areas where safety is an issue and make those areas no parking.
Lochner indicated that regardless of what the Council decided, Pine Grove Manor still wanted to pursue parking restrictions near its complex and was willing to pay for signs. Tenants would have to park in their designated area.
“If we’re going to do that for Pine Grove Manor, why not do it in some other places?” asked Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem. “Do parking restrictions from 1 a.m. – 6 a.m. over there and see how it works.”
“We can’t do anything about it now anyway,” said Council President Don Klinker. “Let’s dream about this.”
“Dream?” said Council Member Jeremy Hanfler. “We’ve been dreaming about this for a year.”
VanRisseghem said it’s been a topic since 2007.
“If we sit on it for another year, it looks like we’ll sit on it forever,” said Council Member Frank Gosiak. “We’ll seem like a Council that can’t make a decision.”
“Why not identify the four – five areas that are a problem and tag those,” said Zylka.
VanRisseghem agreed, noting that Fourth Street was a problem.
Lochner said he would talk with the snow plow drivers and the police chief to compile a list of troublesome areas.
“We will continue to look at options and visit with Council,” said Lochner.
Little Falls Council Briefs
In other business Monday, the Little Falls City Council:
• Agreed to retiring Lesan, a canine officer with the Little Falls Police Department. As of Jan. 1, 2014, Lesan will live as a pet with his handler, Officer Jon West, and the city will pay for the animal’s medical care;
• Approved bringing Fort Ripley Township into the Little Falls Fire Department’s fire protection plan at an unspecified date, but before Dec. 1, 2014;
• Approved the 2014 fee schedule, except for fees at the golf course 7-1, with Council Member at Large Brian-Paul Crowder voting no. Fees at the golf course will be set closer to spring;
• Approved the decertification of tax increment financing (TIF) district 1-20 which includes the area by Larson Boats, Lindbergh Drive South and past Mill Park and TIF district 1-1 near Maple Island Park, the very first TIF district handled by the city;
• Decided to have staff clarify the city’s policy regarding the trapping of animals in the city. The city hires a trapper to control nuisance beaver in a ditch in northwest Little Falls. As part of a long-term agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the city is responsible for maintaining the area near the railroad tracks. Public Works Director Jerry Lochner said the city’s policy on trapping animals relates to trapping in city parks; and
• Voted to spend the budgeted $2,850 for a city code review by American Legal Publishing Corporation.
The Council will next meet Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.