Park for parking not a tradeoff that council supports
City Councilman Jake Vickery found he was all alone yesterday when it came to giving park space over for parking space.
After looking at sketches depicting a new parking scheme and sidewalk along the Herron Park side of Neale Avenue, Vickery said he’d be willing to consider extending the parking area into the popular riverside park in order to build a better sidewalk.
“Are you kidding?” Mayor John Bennett asked City Engineer Nick Adeh after hearing the proposal at yesterday’s lunchtime work session. “We’re paving a park to put in parking? Not for my vote.”
After hearing a slew of proposals for improving pedestrian and child safety at the park, Bennett and three City Council members sent Adeh back to the drawing board on some, though not all of the ideas for changing the park. The proposals came out of a recent neighborhood meeting.
All four council members present agreed that a sidewalk should be built on the north side of Neale Avenue between Original Curve and No Problem Bridge, because it will mean fewer people walking down the shoulder of the road to get to the park. They were also receptive to the idea of installing a crosswalk and speed bump at the intersection of Neal and Queen streets.
They were less excited with a proposal to replace the wall that supports the dirt parking lot with a grassy slope that would extend into the park, but they were willing to look at it in more detail.
And though Bennett was the only one who vigorously protested the idea of extending the parking lot 18 feet into the park, council members Jim Markalunas and Rachel Richards agreed that proposal is unacceptable. Bennett and Richards said the dirt lot should essentially remain unchanged.
Adeh said he would rework the proposals to reflect the council’s concerns. And Police Chief Tom Stephenson said he would work up a profile on the accident history at Neale Avenue to see if any major changes are needed for safety’s sake.
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Contact with two presumed positive COVID-19 cases has led to 65 students and staff at Basalt Elementary School transitioning to remote instruction.