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City advises on parking during snowfall
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MONROE - The Public Safety Committee gathered Tuesday to hear concerns by a local business owner and get information from Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley regarding the demolition of the parking ramp and how Square residents will park without the extra space.

Kelley discussed how snow removal would affect parking without access to the parking ramp with Baumgartner's owner Chris Soukup, who attended the meeting with two other people who own buildings along the downtown Square.

Kelley said the city ordinances regarding snowfall only specify that parking cannot be done along the Square when two or more inches of snow has gathered. If people do not adhere to the rule, they are issued a $20 ticket. There is no timed schedule written in local law because snow can be unpredictable. Kelley said from his understanding, the ramp was built to accommodate a business, and since that business left the downtown location, it has been used as a snow parking alternative. Now residents must find new alternatives.

"So we took away a place that existed for that purpose and now we're throwing those poor folks out into the snow, so to speak," Kelley said.

Director of Public Works Al Gerber pointed out that the Square takes priority during plowing, with lots cleared later in the morning. Usually snow plows make routes in early morning hours as general practice to ensure all snow is cleaned up unless the timing of a large storm proves counter-productive. In public parking areas, such as the Spring Square lot or parking north of the Square along 16th Avenue and 8th Street, Gerber said even if vehicles are present the city will plow around them to clear the main area of travel.

Soukup said he had been unaware of the lots being available even in the face of heavy snowfall. However, he noted that the location of certain lots can still cause problems for those who, for example, would prefer not to walk two blocks or more with groceries to their residence along the Square. He observed a number of vehicles that usually were parked in the ramp have now been parked in spaces directly in front of his business and along the block instead. Soukup added that he would be sending out a letter to all fellow business owners along the Square to request renters and employees not use Square parking spaces throughout the entire day as a way to free space for customers.

After a discussion between attendees and committee members Brooke Bauman and Chris Beer, Mayor Louis Armstrong indicated the idea of rearranging the Square by having plow drivers sweep different areas at different times or reserving an inside parking lane was unnecessary.

"I don't see that as the best option, personally," Armstrong said. "We're going to have the same thing next year."

Next winter the space where the parking ramp is currently being demolished will be paved for roughly 72 parking spots but no covered parking will be available for the public. The municipal parking ramp held 212 stalls, but less than 170 were viable due to 43 unusable spaces deemed unsafe over its years of use. Armstrong added that the Spring Square lot, which is within a block of the Square, will be available for residents who should know that lot is an option. He added that if items need to be dropped off at homes, quick parking with hazard lights on can be done before taking the vehicle to a more permanent spot.

The committee agreed all residents along the Square who wish to park close to their homes during times of more than two inches of snowfall should use the public city lots made available to them.