August 23, 2019

Boulevard parking stymied by 2-2 vote - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Boulevard parking stymied by 2-2 vote

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2019 4:06 pm

Dakota State University officials will need to devise a different plan for vehicle parking at a new student residence near St. Thomas School in Madison after city commissioners failed to approve a request that would have supported boulevard parking.

Members of the Madison City Commission split 2-2 on Monday during a vote on whether or not to approve a rights-of-way request made by DSU.

DSU officials wanted students, who would live at a new student residence, to park their cars between the curb and sidewalks on a corner lot in central Madison. To do so, the university would need city permission to occupy two boulevards.

The rights-of-way request initially came before the city commissioners four weeks ago. During each of the meetings in which the commissioners discussed the request, neighborhood residents asked for a different parking plan.

Madison residents living near N.W. 3rd St. and N. Van Eps Ave. spoke during city meetings about their concerns about how the new student residence and boulevard parking would change the character of the neighborhood and cause safety problems. Weeks ago, the neighbors pointed out that St. Thomas School and the Madison Central School District use the same section of N. 3rd St. as a school bus stop. They warned that DSU students might need to back their cars out of their parking spaces onto 3rd St. while students are getting on and off buses or entering and leaving St. Thomas School.

On Monday, Mayor Marshall Dennert said the Rev. DeWayne Kayser of St. Thomas Church and Cate Luvaas, St. Thomas School principal, want to maintain the school bus stop there. Dennert also said St. Thomas School wants to maintain parents' routine of picking up and dropping off students along the section of N. Van Eps Ave. next to the school building. He added that the section of N. 3rd St. next to the school served as a fire lane.

Stacy Krusemark, DSU vice president for business and administrative services, had previously told the commissioners that DSU officials preferred the boulevard parking plan. Krusemark said DSU students also preferred the parking proposal.

DSU purchased the former Catholic convent, located at N.W. 3rd St. and Van Eps Ave. to serve as a student residence. DSU officials want to renovate the building into housing for 23 students.

DSU officials also wanted to install 21 car-parking spaces in the boulevards and in the alley on the west side of the building. To do so, DSU requested permission to occupy rights-of-way in the boulevards along the city streets next to the former convent.

City Commissioner Kelly Johnson noted that if the boulevard parking was not installed, students might need to park their vehicles curbside throughout the neighborhood.

Commissioner Jeremiah Corbin suggested that DSU officials hold meetings with neighborhood residents to discuss issues related to the new student residence.

On Monday, Madison residents spoke about other options to the boulevard parking, installation of fence along the lot's boundaries, and safety issues.

Commissioner Bob Thill asked if DSU had plans to purchase or lease land to provide parking. Thill also asked if boulevard parking was denied for a year, whether DSU officials could try out a different parking plan. Krusemark restated DSU's position that boulevard parking was the better option for the students.

Commissioners Corbin and Johnson voted yes to approve the rights-of-way request. Mayor Dennert and Commissioner Thill voted no.

Commissioner Mike Waldner was not present at Monday's meeting. Waldner had abstained from the initial vote on the parking request, and he would not, by voting rules, have voted during Monday's count, according to Jennifer Eimers, city finance officer.

The city commissioners had tabled the request for two two-week periods in an effort to find other parking options and to contact local school officials about school bus-related safety issues.

They provided the first delay so that DSU officials could study other options in providing student parking. After two weeks, DSU officials returned to the commissioners and proposed the same boulevard parking plan.

The commissioners tabled the request for a second time so the mayor could contact local school officials to determine if any safety issues existed with installation of new boulevard parking spaces.

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