As mentioned in the story on page 1A of today’s paper, there is a public safety issue facing Creston City Council when it comes to parking on narrow streets in town.
Since the idea was brought up at Tuesday’s Creston City Council meeting, I’ve gone back and forth in my head several times what I think the best solution would be.
I’ll say this: I don’t know what the best solution is. But, I do feel like something needs to be done.
I don’t drive a 10-feet-7-inch-wide fire truck like Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson does. But, my personal experience driving through Creston still leads me to believe something needs to be done about parking.
The issue, as I see it, is two-fold. We have narrow streets in town, and we have residents parking on both sides of the street, making those narrow streets even narrower.
Making certain streets wider, from 26-feet wide to 31-feet wide, has been a topic of conversation between city council members and Austin Smith of Garden and Associates during the ongoing discussions about street improvements.
North Elm Street has been the main street the council has looked at in those discussions. More on the decision facing council members when it comes to North Elm Street will be published in the CNA later this week.
Driving around a parked car on North Elm Street, especially while cresting the hill located between West Spencer Street and West Irving Street, can be nerve-wracking, not knowing if another vehicle might meet you head-on coming from the other direction.
And that’s just with a car parked on one side of the street. On streets where cars are parked directly across from each other on both sides of the streets, it can be a tight fit.
And that’s just for my car.
Now, imagine Jackson trying to drive his 10-feet-7-inch-wide fire truck through there.
Jackson got his tape measure out and did some calculations. Jackson said when he measured certain streets in Creston with his tape measure, they came in at 24- to 25-feet-wide.
After meeting with Jackson this morning, I used a tape measure to measure my car. My car comes in at approximately 6 feet wide.
So, if you start with a 25-feet-wide street, subtract 2 feet for parking away from the curb, then subtract 12 more feet for the width of two cars, now you’re down to just 11 feet of space left. Jackson said he likes to have 1 foot of clearance on each side of his truck, as well.
And now we have an issue.
“Mathematically, it’s impossible to put a 10-feet-7-inch truck through two vehicles on a 24- to 25-foot road,” Jackson said. “It just doesn’t happen. When I’m asked my opinion, I can’t say, ‘No, it’s fine,’ when mathematically it doesn’t fit.”
So why doesn’t the fire department get a smaller truck, someone might ask.
“My trucks have gotten bigger. That’s for the safety standards the industry has to build them to,” Jackson said. “That’s definitely changed how big they are. So they’re bigger and wider and vehicles are bigger.”
Some of the ideas discussed included parking on one side of the street only, alternate parking year-round or no parking at all on streets.
Jackson said parking on one side of the street only or alternate parking year-round would alleviate the problem of getting through streets. The only issue with either of those options would be if a house fire was located on the same side of the street all the cars are parked on, making it difficult to access the house with the ladder truck.
Council members have a tough task ahead of them in finding a solution to this problem.
And that’s why members of the subcommittee formed to examine this issue are asking for the public’s input.
“Hopefully we can come up with a solution,” Jackson said. “I’m just one member of this group interjecting my professional opinion. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m sure it’s not an easy answer. But, I had to make the council aware. I think they’re putting a lot of thought into it and what’s the best course for everybody. It’s probably a compromise somewhere along the line.”