Petition falls short at City Hall

FAIRMONT – This summer, residents on Lake Park Boulevard got together and petitioned to make their narrow street a one-way, with parking on one side.

On Monday, they got half their wish.

Fairmont City Council, in a 3-2 vote, decided to reject the petition, but city staff will work on signage to restrict parking. Currently, no parking is allowed on the lake side of Lake Park Boulevard from Albion Avenue to Sisseton Lane, but after Monday’s vote, parking will be restricted to one side of the street for the entire length of the boulevard, following the recommendation of Fairmont’s public works director, Troy Nemmers.

Council members Terry Anderson and Joe Kallemeyn cast the dissenting votes. Based on the number of names on the petition presented to the council, Anderson said he was in favor of giving the people what they wanted.

The petition asked the city to designate a portion of Lake Park Boulevard as a one-way, from Sisseton Lane to Woodland Avenue, with parking limited to the north side of the street. Signatures included residents from Lake Park Boulevard and the adjoining Lake Park Place.

Petitioners were concerned about safety, citing problems with speeding and poor visibility on a hilly stretch of the road. They also voiced frustration with the narrow width of the street, particularly when cars are parked on both sides of the boulevard.

“It’s a dragway for kids,” Kay Schellpeper told the council Monday night. “They love to speed up and down on that street.”

Traffic counters installed for a week on that stretch of road showed vehicles were actually traveling slower than the posted 30 mph speed limit. According to Police Chief Greg Brolsma, who was called forward at the meeting to respond to questions, the area has not been prone to accidents.

On one-way roads, however, speeds tend to increase, said Brolsma, noting that one-way designations are usually intended to ease congestion and move traffic along at a quicker pace.

He also expressed concern about how a one-way street would impact adjoining streets.

“It’s a very complicated issue. There’s no clear choice here,” he said.

One resident on Lake Park Boulevard spoke up against changing the traffic rules on his street. If the boulevard was a one-way, John Hawthorne said he would have to exit the street on a steep hill, which he says can be nearly impossible in the winter when the roads are icy and snowplows clearing Woodland Avenue block the end of Lake Park Boulevard.

“I’ve only lived in Fairmont for one year,” he acknowledged, “but [the boulevard] has been this way for decades. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Nemmers asked the council and residents to consider his recommendation a first step in remedying the street’s problems.

“Let’s see how it works,” he said.

Kallemeyn encouraged residents to work with city staff, and he directed city staff to be proactive and bring the issue back to the council if problems persist.

In other business, the council:

o Approved a liquor license for Serenade’s By the Lake at 2321 Albion Ave., where the Sirloin House was formerly located.

o Declared a list of impounded vehicles as excess property to be sold at public auction by the police department.

o Approved the mayor’s appointment of Dustin Wiederhoeft to the airport advisory board.