OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa City Council, at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 4, addressed a request to restrict parking on Fifth Ave East between South Second Street and South Seventh Street.
Council discussed the nature of the request with Public Works Director, Akhilesh Pal. Pal mentioned that a parking study was done and they found that the width of the street varies between 25 and 31 feet. Their study concluded that the lack of parking restrictions and the variations in pavement slows down emergency vehicles and makes driving difficult for cars when vehicles are parked on both sides of the street.
The Public Works parking study also found that there were a total of seven reported crashes in the last five years on Fifth Ave East, some of which were at intersections. Of the seven crashes, five resulted in property damage and two resulted in injuries.
Councilman Tom Walling pondered why the city should add restrictions on parking to a road that’s not busy.
Pal said there were specific concerns reported.
“There are access problems when there’s parked vehicles on both sides, you cannot navigate a fire truck,” he said.
The council inquired about what part of Fifth Avenue the request came from, but those details were not readily available at the time.
The council and Pal discussed the restrictions in detail for several minutes before voting against restrictions on parking, as they did not have enough information about the request and they had several unanswered questions.
A survey was sent to all property owners in the area that would be affected by the restrictions and of the respondents, 14 owners were in favor of the change and 16 opposed, including a business.
The council did the math with Pal and found that even though the road is tight, cars could navigate through with caution and with the fire department taking into consideration the best route to take in emergencies, they typically would avoid Fifth Avenue anyway.
Highway jurisdiction transfer
McClure Engineering Company engaged to aid with a possible transfer of jurisdiction of State and US Highways.
After a public hearing, the council voted in favor of having the McClure Engineering Company provide services for a possible transfer of state highways to the City of Oskaloosa.
The Iowa Department of Transportation has adopted a policy that allows cities and counties to have ownership of state and U.S. highways that pass through their jurisdictions.
The council would like to obtain ownership of US Highway 63 (Market Street), State Highway 93 ( A Avenue) and State Highway 23 (17th Street).
To assist with obtaining ownership, the council voted in favor of allowing McClure Engineering Co. to assist with facilitating the discussion with Iowa’s DOT, aid with negotiations and assist with developing a strategy.
One of the goals that would stem from having ownership of the US and State Highways would be to keep the trucks out of town.
“Well I totally agree that we keep it on the radar and it’s good that we’re looking at it,” said Walling, “because everybody is on the same page about this. One of the bigger goals is to get the trucks out of town.”
Off-street parking ordinance
The council also addressed how violations for off-street parking for anything other than a hard surface will be addressed.
Presently, violations are prosecuted as municipal infractions, but the Public Works Department requested that violations are now pursued by citations from city police to save time and cut back on costs, by eliminating payment of filing fees for municipal infraction filings.
The council voted in favor of amending the ordinance.