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Council seeking public’s opinion on parking

Creston City Council recently formed a subcommittee to examine parking on narrow streets in Creston and the safety hazards it creates.

Now, that subcommittee is looking for the public’s input on the matter.

“There’s been a public safety issue brought up,” said Steve Wintermute, at-large councilman, during Tuesday’s council meeting. “We’ve visited with the police chief, fire chief and some ambulance crew representatives about parking, mostly in the older part of town where it’s 26-foot-wide streets. When you get two cars parked (across from each other), it’s very dangerous to try to get a fire truck or ambulance down through there.”

The difficult part for council members is coming up with a solution to the problem.

Several ideas have been floated around, including parking on one side of the street only, alternate parking year-round or no parking at all on streets.

Starting a pilot program on certain streets to test different ideas has also been discussed.

“We’d like to get some input before we make some kind of decision and really upset some people,” Wintermute said. “I just would like to get some people’s input and see if we have any better ideas.”

Members of the subcommittee are councilmen Wintermute, Terry Freeman and Ron Higgins. Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson, Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer and two members of the Greater Regional Medical Center ambulance crew have also been involved with the subcommittee.

According to Jackson, the biggest issue he’s faced so far has been having to drive slowly down certain streets to make sure his fire truck will clear the parked cars.

“I personally, years ago, drove our old ladder truck, which was narrower than our new one, down one of these streets at 3 in the morning for a house fire, and basically what you do is you look in your mirrors as you go past them and see if any of the vehicles are moving,” Jackson said. “You’re that tight.”

But, just because there haven’t been any major issues yet doesn’t mean the potential isn’t there for a major problem.

Jackson said it does not mathematically work for his 10-feet-7-inch-wide fire truck to fit down a street that measures 24-feet wide with two vehicles parked directly across from each other. Plus, Jackson said, most people don’t park right up against the curb.

“Has it been a major issue yet? No. Is there potential it’s going to cause an issue? Yes,” Jackson said.

Parking fire trucks away from a house on fire and hauling fire hose and equipment to the scene isn’t a viable option, either, Jackson said.

By the time firefighters haul fire hose and equipment 500 feet from the truck to the scene, not only will they be exhausted, but Jackson estimated it could create a 10-minute delay.

“If you look at our streets that are narrow, which are older parts of towns, not only are the streets narrow, but the houses sit in close proximity to each other, too,” Jackson said. “A 10-minute delay on a house fire that’s well involved probably means there’s a good chance the next house is on fire. And, once the next house is on fire, there’s a chance the next house is on fire. It’s just a snowball effect.”

In other city council news:

• The council unanimously approved a request from the P.E.O. Chapters AZ and LG to use the west Depot parking lot for the fourth-annual trunk sale Saturday, May 6, from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• The council unanimously approved the sale of city-owned property located in the vicinity of 620 N. Cherry St. to Nate Berning for $50.

• The council unanimously approved the appointment of Randy Huewe to the SIRHA Commission as representative for the city of Creston.

• The council unanimously approved providing a letter of support on behalf of the Union County Fair Board for a grant.

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