BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council moved forward with changes to traffic controls on 15th Street to the city’s north limits on Tuesday night.
The council approved removing stop signs at Avenues F and G on 15th Street permanently, as well as banning parking on the east side of 15th Street north to the city limits next to the new P.O.R.T. wellness trail. The council voted 5-2 in favor of the final reading of the changes, with Councilman Mark Lair and Councilwoman Rebecca Bowker voting against the measure.
Bowker has been vocal about not removing the signs at Avenues F and G due to safety concerns for children in the area getting to Lincoln Elementary School.
The city also approved the second reading of a motion to make the current 4-way stop at 15th and Avenue E a permanent stop. That action requires one more reading.
Kristy Woolever, a resident on 15th street, said she was opposed to removing the parking on the east side of 15th Street north of Avenue E due to the limits it creates for parking at her home.
“Why did you decide to pull that parking,” Woolever asked.
“The simple answer is from a public safety standpoint,” Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said. “It was recommended to us from our in-house staff. One of the things they highlighted is changes. The bypass came and changed traffic flow. And as we looked at that we do have the wellness trail going up that side now and we felt that was a change.
“It is a farm-to-market road as a state designation for an arterial road that comes with certain funding and it warranted an analysis from our in-house public safety group. Mark Rohloff our (police) chief brought the recommendation to pull parking.”
Woolever asked if the city would consider a compromise and ban parking during the busy parts of the day.
“I understand that certain parts of the day – in the morning I’d say from 6:30 to 8:30 there’s a lot of traffic, especially in the winter time, and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. maybe, but other than that there isn’t a lot of traffic,” Woolever said.
Councilman Donna Amandus said the street is not wide enough to support parking and have two lanes. She said she’s been by Woolever’s home and there is public parking across the intersection from her home.
Woolever said she’s concerned about holidays and special occasions where family won’t have a place to park at her home.
Councilman Tom Schulz said there is room to park at neighboring businesses that aren’t open on the holidays.
“And that parking is almost always 50 to 70 percent open anyway,” Schulz said.
“I’m just saying if you decide to take the parking off, why can’t we park in the evening, when there isn’t that much traffic, let’s say there’s no parking from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m,” Woolever said.
Councilman Rebecca Bowker said the council was trying to find solutions for her and recognized her situation.
“I fully appreciate and respect your position and I hope you can appreciate the direction of the council as well,” Bowker said.
Woolever said the council has now pulled parking on the south side of E, and pulled stop signs from 15th Street at Avenue F, both of which she disagreed with.
In an unrelated issue, Mohrfeld revealed that the marina project has secured a $100,000 grant from Climax Molybdenum’s parent company Freeport McMoRan over the next several years. He will also be presenting in Des Moines for a CAT grant and has applied for America Rescue Plan funding from Lee County.
In other action, the council:
• approved a mandated approval of the city’s Code of Ordinances, 7-0.
• approved a resolution reissuing the Water Revenue Capital Loan Note to take advantage of some interest savings.
• approved three changes orders on the city’s marina project and Hwy. 61 projects
• approved a three-year impound towing agreement with B.J.’s Performance in Fort Madison.
• approved a motion to appoint Amanda Frank to the Fort Madison Housing Authority.