BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – City officials took a first step toward removing parking on the south side of Avenue E from 2nd to 24th Street in Fort Madison Monday.
The move will require two additional readings and could become a reality in December.
Discussion of the parking limitation centered on possibly reducing the no parking nine block to just 15th Street.
Councilman Rusty Andrews said he wasn’t in favor of eliminating the parking. But with Fort Madison Police Chief Mark Rohloff advocating for the move, Andrews voted in favor on the first reading.
The move approved unanimously 5-0. Two seats on the council are still open and with plans to fill the vacancies by appointment at the Nov. 17 meeting, unless a petition is filed for a special election.
Rohloff said Avenue E is an arterial road and it was not designed to have parking on both sides. He said collisions on Avenue E have doubled with the increased traffic due to Hwy. 61 being closed from 2nd to 6th streets.
“We did our studies and as we dug into it a bit deeper we saw the standards of the roadway are not being met,” he said. “2nd to 24th is an arterial and the standard is to only allow parking on one side.”
He said at this point the city can’t really look the other way.
“That’s not possible and the city council does need to take some action,” Rohloff said.
Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said he wanted the council to consider two things before voting – the safety of motorists and Rohloff’s comments.
“Chief Mark does a pretty damn good job for us and if he’s giving us this recommendation we should give it some consideration,” Mohrfeld said.
In opposing the move, Andrews said people he spoke with supported the move didn’t live on Avenue E, and were looking for a quicker trip home.
“People have to stop, think and drive their cars,” Andrews said.
Rohloff said the decision to remove parking on the south side as opposed to the north side was because the volume of traffic coming from the south to the north was heavier and removing parking on that side is safer for those motorists turning on Avenue E or crossing Avenue E.
Councilman Chad Cangas, who sits on a public safety committee that came up with the recommendation, suggested ending the restriction at 15th.
Councilwoman Rebecca Bowker said she used to live in that western stretch and said there aren’t as many parking issues out that way, however the ordinance reading was called for a vote and it passed as written.
In an unrelated issue, Mohrfeld said he had a conversation with Bryan Humphrey, the owner the downtown building on 8th and G. Humphrey has ignored several court-ordered deadlines on shoring up the building and communicating with city officials.
“I met with Bryan at his building and opened some dialogue with him,” Mohrfeld said. “Wish there was more forward motion, but I did get the chance to meet with him.”
In other action, the council approved Mohrfeld signing a letter to the Lee County Board of Supervisors encouraging the board to create an oversight board of the Lee County Emergency Medical Services, and offered to place Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren on the board.