By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ramp is a hot issue in mayoral race
Placeholder Image
MONROE - Election day is rapidly approaching and the signs of competition for the next mayor have popped up in yard after yard within the city.

Current Monroe mayor Bill Ross is one of two candidates for the office, alongside Ward 7 Alderman Louis Armstrong. Marc Kennedy will also be listed on the ballot, but Kennedy has announced he no longer wishes to take the seat. Because he qualified for ballot status, state statute requires his name remains on the ballot.

Armstrong has said he wants to move the city forward through action rather than hesitation. He said a decision on the municipal parking ramp downtown was the most vital item of importance for him and the top priority if he were elected mayor.

"We need a decision and to finalize some plans for that," Armstrong said.

The alderman noted the decision must be best for residents of the city both fiscally and on a practical level.

Both candidates have focused their attention on the deteriorating municipal parking ramp within the last month. Ross posed a resolution to the council to replace the ramp with a parking lot, following one of the recommendations presented by

consultants in a downtown parking study. The measure failed on a 5-4 vote March 15.

Ross said he will place three options for discussion on the council's April 6 agenda. The first will address comments made by aldermen regarding a public/private collaboration option. Ross said though it has been discussed, the city has not found a viable option yet, but added that if the city would like to follow through, an engineering firm should be hired to develop a bid process to attract the best company. The second item would have discussion of constructing a new ramp with the same amount of parking spots. Third, Ross suggested the city follow recommendations put forward by Main Street Monroe and the Business Improvement District Board, which specify that a new ramp be built at a different site downtown, and it be constructed before the existing ramp is torn down.

Armstrong voiced support for a similar plan during the last council meeting, advocating building a new parking ramp where the Spring Square parking lot is located before tearing down the crumbling municipal lot.

A second priority for Armstrong is to use the newly formulated Monroe Compre-hensive Plan. He said the city needed to not only approve it, but also to make sure the goals in the plan are realized.

Ross has made the plan a critically important piece of his position as mayor now and if he were elected to his 10th term as mayor of Monroe. Ross noted the problem with the last comprehensive plan, approved in 2005, was the lack of action on the ideas within the document. He said that with the public input gathered for the goals and projects listed within the plan should be acknowledged and addressed as much as possible before the plan is reviewed again a decade from now.

"There are things the city can do to enhance tourism and the quality of life in Monroe," Ross said.

Examples of how to improve the city included the goal listed in the plan for a dog park in Monroe and the addition of bike lanes where practical.

Ross said he has also prioritized economic development in the city. Through the suggestion of rezoning made in the Monroe Comprehensive Plan, the mayor pointed out that the new updates could lead to more building projects and careers for residents.

"Whatever it takes to create jobs and create some economic vitality," Ross said.

The final item Ross has prioritized is continuing to streamline city government to ensure an efficient process while also keeping in mind the importance of "saving the taxpayer."

Armstrong has hopes to keep the city moving forward, either as alderman or mayor. He is also running uncontested to retain his Ward 7 aldermanic seat.