No messing around, the city council approved several parking changes, and a four-way stop near public school, at their Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting.

No messing around, the city council approved several parking changes, and a four-way stop near public school, at their Tuesday, Feb. 14 meeting. And that came at the end of the agenda, when Police Chief Matt Andres took the floor.

Chief Andres and resident Chari Wilson approached the council to discuss concerns about the speed of traffic on Water Street SW, a block north of public school. Wilson told the council she’s observed vehicles traveling much too fast and nearly hitting children as they leave an area along School Street after school. She said her concern is increased because her adult son, who is blind, will be moving to the neighborhood soon and will need to walk safely between her home and his apartment a few blocks away.

City Manager Mark Kober and Chief Andres agreed a large part of the problem stemmed from high school students parking along School Street, rather than in the school parking lot. They said the school administrators assured them there is space available in the parking lot and that is where they prefer the students park. “They have to buy a five dollar parking permit,” Andres explained. “But, they get their money back when they turn in the permit at the end of the year.”

The council approved two items to address the issue at once. Parking will not be allowed during the school day along School Street, from Fourth Avenue SW to Sixth Avenue SW, nor on Fifth Avenue SW between School Street and Water Street. In addition, the intersection of Fourth Avenue SW and Water Street SW will become a four-way stop.

In the future parking may be restricted to residents only on the 400 block of Water Street, but the council wanted to see if prohibiting parking on School Street would handle the issue. The council also instructed City Attorney Alissa Fischer to determine what needed to be done to reduce the speed limit in the school zone.

Andres got approval for two more issues: extending the time the stop arms are down for the school bus zone by one hour, until 4:30 p.m., to accommodate after school activities; and creating a handicapped parking space just north of Main Street on Second Avenue NE.

In another traffic safety issue, the council heard from Kober that MnDOT plans to remove the stop lights at First Avenue when they resurface Highway 14 in 2018. The council passed a motion opposing the removal and will invite MnDOT engineer Robert Jones to the next council meeting to hear the community’s concerns.

Councilor Larry Braun had previously suggested a citizen survey and Kober presented information on a state best practices program that would include reimbursement of expenses, and information on the survey process used by New Ulm. Mayor Wayne Pelzel said he would appoint a committee of business, school and citizen representatives to assist with survey planning. Pelzel would welcome citizens to volunteer for the committee.

Kober reported he would be meeting with the rural fire committee on Feb. 27 to renew the contract. He said the rate will be $181.89 per section for 2017, but the added expense of the new turnout gear would require an increase to $227.34 for 2018.