Purdy Council changes position on downtown parking

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
New banners Submitted photo Crews for Empire District Electric recently placed 24 new banners on utility poles from Highway 37 to Ninth Street along Highway C in Purdy. The banners promote the Purdy community on one side and the school district on the other. Empire District employees Dave Hatfield and Matt Alexander installed the banner shown above banners on Highway C and Gabby Gibbons Avenue. Empire District employees Calvin Fare and Derek White also assisted with the project, which was a joint effort of the Purdy R-2 School District and the City of Purdy.

Purdy aldermen backed away from a "no parking" position on Washington Avenue during the January city council meeting.

At the direction of the city, public works superintendent Teddy McIntire placed "no parking" and "violators will be towed" signs on the north side of Washington Avenue between Commercial and Third streets.

A new seven-page ordinance on parking was adopted in June. Aldermen had opening discussion correcting the visual obstructions caused when cars parked in front of the historic Purdy Hotel and in front of the Post Office.

Mayor Ron Dutra said he discussed the situation with Ed Mareth, who owns the hotel building and leases space to the Utopian Bean coffee shop at the west end of the block. Mareth voiced no concern about the plan at the time.

Placing the "no parking" signs appeared to have caught everyone by surprise. The Utopian Bean protested over the Internet and owner Pam Foland came to the council meeting to discuss the situation.

Dutra said aldermen took action following many complaints from motorists who could not see around the parking cars. He believed adequate parking existed on Third Street for the Utopian Bean and on Washington and Fourth Street for Post Office customers.

Foland said the signs were confusing and made Post Office customers think their vehicles would be towed away as well.

Dutra voiced doubts whether any parking on the north side of the street was possible without blocking visibility. State law said cars had to park at least 15 feet from the side streets. Aldermen Steve Roden and Wayne Rupp suggested marking no parking zones in from Commercial and Third streets, leaving three spots in the center where, as Rupp put it, "People can park at their own risk."

The street nonetheless offered traffic issues. Former mayor Bob Moser said Washington has "a lot of traffic" between 8:45 and 10:10 a.m. Police Chief Jackie Lowe said there had been a number of near collisions.

At the suggestion of placing a traffic light, Dutra said, "Facebook would just explode [with comments]."

Council members passed a motion to stripe off the ends of the north side of the block for no parking, leave the center open with no spots marked and review the situation later. Signs stating "No parking 18 feet from the corner" would be posted. Foland agreed to mark a handicapped parking place behind the coffee shop, which had not yet been done.

Moser cautioned that parked cars in the Post Office block tend to deter speeding. Lowe said with pedestrian traffic, even 25 miles per hour was too fast.

In other business, the council finalized its contract for city-wide trash service with Doty Sanitation. The six-month financial report was approved for publication.

Moser asked about progress in the sewer dispute with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Dutra said attorney Joseph Johnson with the Springfield office of Lathrop and Gage is negotiating on behalf of the city. The city would have more than a verbal agreement before going back to voters with another expensive proposition, he added.

Lowe updated council members on a running series of incidents at the Cedar Tower apartments where several family members continue to visit despite one eviction. Tenants have complained of threats by the family. Scott Merritt, 27, was found hiding in a closet and arrested for trespassing and property damage for slashing the tires of one of the other tenants.

Scott Whittington, 34, was arrested on a parole violation. He was also charged with felony possession of a controlled substance for a bag of suspected methamphetamine in his pocket.

The third wig wag switch has worn out on the police car, due to defective equipment. Lowe had the high beams rewired by Cassville Auto Body. Friendly Tire in Monett put four new tires on the car. Tires were subsequently damaged during a pursuit where both the subject and the squad car drove onto stop sticks in the road.

A new radio purchased on a grant has been installed in the squad car. Two new portable radios received from Motorola have gone into use. Altek in Cassville removed a virus from a desk computer.

McIntire reported replacing the pipe on the #1 well house. The new pipe is hunter green and red.

Twelve-inch PVC pipe for the new playground equipment in the park is available for $643.73, McIntire said. Roden reported the city will be able to obtain mulch at no charge from the city of Monett's recycling center.

School Superintendent Steven Chancellor reported Empire District Electric had begun installing the new banners on utility poles on Highway C. All the poles would be used except for one by First State Bank, which is engulfed by a tree. Snowflakes hanging on the poles would be lowered to make room for the banners.

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