by Eric Oslund
Parking along Park Avenue and Parkington Circle, off of Parrish Avenue in Otsego, has been a problem for some time, and it seems to be getting worse. On evenings and weekends, the roads are often found to be lined with cars. Most belong to people heading to Boondox Bar and Grille to eat, drink, play volleyball, or participate in some other activity taking place there.
The growing inconvenience to the homeowners in that area has become a concern to the city staff and the Otsego City Council, and the two discussed possible solutions to the problem Monday, Aug. 28. They decided to table the discussion until they can discuss their ideas with homeowners and the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.
“Boondox is overflowing their parking on their site as well as the property to the south where Pour is, causing congestion on both sides, parking on both sides of the street, off the pavement edge and into ditches, damaging the pavement and causing general mayhem,” City Planner Dan Licht said.
First and foremost, without needing to discuss it with anyone, the city is planning to re-install the no parking signs along the first 300 feet of Park Avenue off of Parrish Avenue. It’s a choking point, and is a designated no-parking zone, but someone seems to have removed the signs that were already in place as cars are usually lined up bumper to bumper along that stretch.
After that, there seemed to be two ideas as to how to clear up the street for the residents around the area. One was to have limited parking, such as a two-hour limit, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Park Avenue from 120 feet west of Parkington Circle to 92nd Street. The problem is that it would likely be hard to enforce, and it wouldn’t help the homeowners all that much because people from the business can still park in front of their property and if they do have people over one night, they still need to make sure they keep moving the cars.
“So they can never have guests over? They can never have a party Monday through Sunday? That’s not fair to them either,” Mayor Jessica Stockamp said.
The other option, which seemed to be the one members of the council leaned towards more, was to establish a residential parking zone by permit only. For example, every resident with a home in that section along Park Avenue and Parkington Circle would receive five parking passes. That way, once their driveway would fill up, they could give their guests a pass and have them park in the street.
“After having spent many years trying to find parking spaces for my vehicle when I was taking night classes at the U and St. Thomas, and in those areas they went to the resident parking, that seemed to really work well,” Council Member Vern Heidner said.
Another appealing part of the residential parking permits is, according to Licht, it would be the easiest to enforce for the sheriff’s department. Instead of having them patrol every two hours marking tires, all they have to do is see if the car has a permit or not.
Since the discussion was tabled to the next meeting, the next step is for city staff to reach out to the residents in the affected area and the sheriff’s department, to get their thoughts on the ideas. Staff will then ask the residents to reach back out to them with any comments or feedback, and will also let them know that they are open to any other ideas people may have regarding how to regulate parking in the area.
While neither the restaurant operators nor property owners of Boondox were at the meeting, Licht did say that they are aware of the situation and are exploring options to make parking better on their own.
“The broker was working on the adjacent businesses, to use that parking,” the city planner explained. “They were also looking at the north portion of the Family Speech and Therapy property, which is currently undeveloped (and turning it into a parking lot), and other adjacent properties this broker has connections to.”