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Parking meters to be pulled in phases
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MONROE - The City of Monroe Common Council passed a resolution Feb. 18 authorizing the removal of the parking meters on the Square, to take effect when the "actual work begins" on the downtown streetscape project "on or about April 15."

Although the wording of the resolution allows the Department of Public Works to remove all the meters at one time, the Public Safety Committee on Monday directed the department to remove the meters as the construction work progresses.

That leaves meters intact and functional until work approaches in each area of the Square.

Meters on side streets off the Square are not affected by the resolution and will remain until future consideration.

Work on replacement of the water main around the Square is expected to begin in April, and will affect the middle rows of meters, one side at a time. Removal of the sidewalks will follow, again one side at a time. The inner circle of traffic and parking spaces will be last to be reconstructed.

Fehr-Graham and Associates, overseeing the project, expects the entire project to take four to five months to complete.

Committee Chairman Charles Koch said although revenues from the meters is a "side benefit," traffic and parking control when construction begins closing sections of the Square was his main concern.

Representatives from Fehr-Graham have said they plan to keep traffic flowing around the Square as much as possible during construction.

Council President Keith Ingwell said he received four messages, in the days before the vote on the resolution, from employees and business owners with questions ranging from removal of side street meters to parking permit refunds.

Thurston Hanson, alderman for the downtown Ward 7, said he had not heard from anyone about the parking situation.

The Monroe Main Street Board of Directors had recommended to the city that no parking control be implemented.

"I hear the words 'parking control' creeping back in (to discussions)," Police Chief Fred Kelley said.

"No control, that's what I voted for," Ingwell said.

But Koch said there needs to be some parking control during construction, until after construction.

"This is going to change from one week to the next," he said.

Director of Public Works Kelly Finkenbinder said taking just the meter heads off leaves a sharp-edged pipe sticking up out of the sidewalk, and cutting the pipes off at sidewalk level leaves a hole, both of which are hazards.

Taking the meters out "as you go" would eliminate those safety concerns, he said.

Koch asked that the issue of parking management be left on the committee's agendas until the construction for the redesigned downtown Square streetscape is finished.

The committee will not have a meeting March 16. The next meeting is planned for April 6.