Atheist invocation draws ire

Scott

OSKALOOSA — Fireworks were seen in the Oskaloosa sky on the night of July 3, however those might not be the only fireworks the city experiences this week.

Atheist activist Justin Scott is scheduled to give a secular invocation at the Oskaloosa City Council meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, and many in the community say they may come out to protest his invocation.

Citizens from near and far have taken to social media to show both support and criticism of the decision to allow Scott time at the council’s microphone. The invocation at City Council meetings is typically done by a religious leader, and Scott’s atheist version is the first time a non-believer of any religion has spoken at an Oskaloosa City Council meeting.

In other business, the City Council will consider a resolution approving the North Third Street sidewalk project as discussed in previous meetings.

Additionally, the 2017 Comprehensive Housing Needs Analysis from Maxfield Research & Consulting will be received and filed. According to City Council communications, city staff recommends two council appointees be named to participate in discussions with the Mahaska Community Development Group to find common priorities for partnership opportunities. The full housing report is available at www.oskaloosaiowa.org and also at City Hall.

The City Council will also hold a closed session to discuss strategy with counsel, according to the agenda, on a matter presently in litigation or in which litigation is imminent where disclosure would be like to prejudice or disadvantage the city’s position.

The city council will also participate in a study session prior to the meeting, at 5 p.m., focusing on parking frustrations within the city.

During the study session, the council is scheduled to review and discuss downtown parking restrictions. According to city council communication from city staff, in June 2016, the council directed staff to monitor complaints for parking restrictions. Since that time, the Oskaloosa Police Department received fewer than five complaints regarding parking time limit restrictions.

According to city communications, city staff believe the existing parking time limits are inconsistent and may be a hardship for those using the downtown areas. Recommended improvements removing two hour on-street, removing the 18-hour restrictions on city lots, remove the alternate day prohibitions, removing all on-street compact car parking spaces and improvements to the mid-block crosswalk on Market Street. The staff also addressed other visibility concerns.

— Angie Holland is a staff writer for the Oskaloosa Herald. She can be reached via email at: aholland@oskyherald.com.

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