Council to discuss parking issues

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

While the Washington City Council is turning its sights to parking issues in the city, the only parking issue that will be discussed at the regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday will be a request to adjust the parking ordinance around Marshall?s Furniture along West Jefferson and South Marion.

Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that he had prepared an ordinance adjusting two parking areas around the building to make them two-hour parking and eliminating two parking stalls on South Marion near the south entrance to McDonald?s. The changes to the ordinance were requested by Marshall?s owner and operator Mike Driscoll at a previous meeting and the council had asked that Hinson and the city staff prepare the ordinance. First reading of the ordinance may occur at the meeting. It takes three readings for the ordinance to be approved.

?We felt that we had a pretty good handle on those and that is going to be on there,? Hinson said.

He said other issues involving parking would be taken up at the April 24 special session. He said this is to give city staff the time to look at the issues. Revisions to the parking code the council is considering include: going to parking on only one side of South B, South C, North Iowa, and North Marion to facilitate better traffic flow. Currently with parking on both sides of the street, traffic is limited to one lane in some areas; no parking further back at C and Monroe to correct a sight distance problem; and sight distance problems at South Iowa and Tyler. The council came to a consensus that city employees should further study the issue, as well as council members should talk with constituents about parking problems in those areas to see if the problems couldn?t be addressed without changing the ordinances.

The council also will discuss the hiring of a marketing firm to assist in the use of revenues from the new hotel/motel tax.

Hinson said the Fund Administration Committee had been working to identify a firm for the job and had received three proposals. The preferred proposal was from the Iowa City firm Running Robots. The Washington Chamber of Commerce has offered to make a $5,000 down payment to retain the firm to be reimbursed when the city gets the first funds from the tax in June.

?They seem to have the capabilities we are looking for from a marketing perspective,? Hinson said.