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Parking issues highlight council meeting

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 8/29/23

The main topic of discussion for the Fayette Board of Aldermen at its latest meeting on Tuesday, August 22, once again was parking.  

Parking has been a near-constant topic around Fayette …

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Parking issues highlight council meeting


The main topic of discussion for the Fayette Board of Aldermen at its latest meeting on Tuesday, August 22, once again was parking. 

Parking has been a near-constant topic around Fayette for years. Now, some residents are asking for parking bans in some areas and the removal of parking restrictions in others. At its previous meeting on August 8, the council voted 5-1 to change the city’s parking ordinance to ban parking along a block of Oaklawn Avenue between Morrison and Walnut streets. At their most recent meeting last week, four of the council’s six members voted in favor to approve the new ordinance, with Peggy O’Connell and Stephanie Ford, in the Northwest and East wards, respectively, voting in opposition. Passage of the ordinance means the ban along that block of road is currently in effect.

Elsewhere, the council is exploring removing restrictions currently in place along Spring Street and Linn Avenue. Gary and Kelly Beeler, who reside on a corner of both streets, asked council members during the August 8 meeting to remove at least some parking restrictions along those two streets.

The Beelers explained that restrictions hamper family gatherings for them and others along the street. They have spoken with other residents in the area who favor the reinstatement of at least some parking.

“We need the room desperately,” Mrs. Beeler told the council.

She also explained that the yellow paint on curbs that bans parking opposite driveways on Linn Avenue has faded and is difficult to see. 

Adding to the confusion is the fact that there are no parking signs along Spring Street, but the road isn’t listed in the city’s parking ordinance.

“I think we need to take a little more time and read through them all and see what we have and don’t have,” said Mayor Jeremy Dawson. “Most of those signs have been up [for longer than we’ve been serving]. Looking at what all the ordinances say and making sure they align. And then we can go from there, either removing them or getting the right signs.”

Other residents with driveways along the north block of Linn Avenue asked the council to keep parking restrictions in place, at least along that section. Rebecca Fenton said that when cars park along the street, she is unable to get in and out of her driveway and expressed concern for emergency vehicles and snowplows that can’t get down the narrow street with cars parked on the margins.

“The primary concern and issue for residents with direct driveway access on Linn Street includes blocked driveways and the narrowing of the street,” Mrs. Fenton said. “In addition, we’re concerned about safety because of this.”

The street becomes congested with vehicles, and the historic, brick-paved street narrows, she explained. 

“Linn is already narrow. When cars park there, which is primarily students and faculty and staff, it’s not only hard for us to get our cars down there but ambulances and emergency vehicles.” 

Linn sits a block east of the Central Methodist campus. Mrs. Fenton said that when parking was allowed on the street, her driveway was often blocked by parked cars more than once a week, and she had to call the police to have the car towed or CMU security to find vehicle owners. 

George Befort, a former resident of Linn Avenue, also spoke in favor of keeping parking restrictions in place on Linn Street.

Further discussion and possible action regarding parking along Linn Avenue and Spring Street is expected to take place at future council meetings.

Former Alderman Grafton Cook asked the city to approve a traffic study that will be entirely funded by the Historic Downtown Fayette Commercial Community Improvement District (CID). Mr. Cook is a member of the CID board. The study will look at parking, traffic flow, and pedestrian crossings inside the CID boundaries, which encompass the downtown area.

The council unanimously approved signing the contract with the company that will conduct the study. 

Also among the parking discussion, East Ward Alderwoman Ronda Gerlt asked again if the city had received a graphic of design changes proposed by Central Methodist along North Church Street. The university plans to upgrade sidewalks and widen the street to allow for better parking, but in doing so, will remove a dozen trees. Mrs. Gerlt has been a vocal critic of the plan since before she was appointed to the council on July 11. In what is largely considered a retaliatory measure for the plan to cut trees, the city council entertained banning parking along the street for university use, but would still allow those going to church at Linn Memorial, which sits on the CMU campus, to park there on Sundays, or any other time the church would be in use. The university contends that 11 of the 12 trees in question will be removed anyway because they are either hazards or are already dying.

A large crowd, which included CMU President Roger Drake, addressed the matter during the council’s June 27 meeting. The vast majority of those who spoke to the council did not want parking banned in front of the college. 

Mayor Dawson said he would contact the university to see if the visual rendering is finished.

“I’m like a dog with a bone,” said Mrs. Gerlt.

The city council meets regularly at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month in City Hall. Meetings are open, agendas are published in advance, and the public is invited.


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