City debates whether it has parking problem

MONMOUTH — Signs along Monmouth’s Main Street read, “two-hour parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.” But those time limits are not actively enforced.   Mayor John Oberst said the lack of enforcement builds contempt with the city.   “We need to either enforce that or take them down,” he said at the Feb. 4 council meeting work session. “Leave the posts, but put the signs in the shop.”   Councilwoman Cec Koontz said she has heard from residents and business owners alike that parking downtown is a problem.   City Manager Scott McClure disagreed.   “This isn’t even a tail wagging the dog, it’s a mythical tail wagging the dog,” McClure said. If parking is enforced, it will discourage people from shopping downtown, and it will serve to shift cars to surrounding neighborhoods, he added.   Councilman Ben Meyer asked McClure to come up with possible parking solutions, eventually ending up with meters.   “We know that’s a long time down the road,” Meyer added.   Councilman Steve Milligan suggested the city put together a parking master plan to evaluate what the city needs by way of parking, what it has and is using, and what it will need as future developments are built.   “We’ve been paying attention to this,” said Councilman Jon Carey. “It’s like a bad penny, it keeps coming back.”   He said when he is parked at the gym downtown in midmorning on a weekday, he can count about 50 available spots on Main Street.   “So I don’t want to hear about a downtown parking problem,” Carey said.   He agreed a parking master plan would be useful for future development, adding that he didn’t want to continue to rehash the alleged problem.   The council agreed to bring in a parking specialist, at no cost to the city, who could help prepare a parking master plan and evaluate the parking situation in downtown Monmouth.   


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