Mahtomedi restricts parking on narrow streets

A Mahtomedi fire engine navigates Spruce Street, highlighting the need for parking restrictions in areas that may be difficult for emergency services to reach.

It’s a tight squeeze through the streets of Mahtomedi. The City Council voted to restrict parking on several of the city’s narrowest streets at its May 4 meeting. 

On some streets, the resolution will restrict parking on one side only, while parking will be restricted entirely on other streets. Several streets in Mahtomedi are already regulated this way; this is just the city’s way of catching up to the safety needs of the community, explained City Engineer Bob Goebel.

“This isn’t something new that we’re just coming up with; this is something we should have done a long time ago, especially on these small, narrow streets,” Goebel said.

Fire Chief Terry Fischer explained the difficulty of navigating ladder trucks through the narrow streets even when there are no cars parked there. A car in the wrong spot at the wrong time could become a safety hazard, preventing emergency services from reaching homes in that part of the city. 

Fischer recalled large fires at homes on Park Avenue within the last 15 years, and estimated that the fire service brings 2-3 trucks per call. 

“It would fill that street up pretty fast, and if there were any cars on there it would block our way of getting to these houses,” he said.

The request for restricted parking also came from the Lake Links Association concerned for the safety of bikers and walkers on the Lake Links Trail system around the lake. A large number of cars parked along these streets can reduce visibility and create dangerous situations for cyclists, walkers and beachgoers. 

The hearing drew a number of public comments. Some residents questioned why the restrictions were necessary, noting that they didn’t often see many cars parked on their streets anyway.  

“You could argue that’s why we don’t need parking restrictions—because it’s not a problem,” said Council Member Jeff Ledermann. “But again, I would side with our staff. People need clear directions and expectations, and that one time I don’t want to be responsible for the fact that Terry couldn’t get through to save a life, or save a house.” 

A few residents who spoke at the meeting mentioned that these tight roads had appeared to become even tighter after the roads were recently repaved and curbs were installed. City Engineer John Sachi assured residents that the recent improvements hadn’t changed the width of the roads. Some of the road widths had been inconsistent before the improvements, and the city unified them.

“The curbing gives people the feeling that we’re narrowing it up, but that one foot of gutter pan on each side is considered drivable surface,” he said. “In fact, with surmountable curb, you can even drive up on the part that flares up. That’s what we recommend that you do.” 

The council struck several proposed restrictions from the list during the public hearing, citing a need for more information about impacts on Wildwood Beach Road and the areas adjacent to the Lake Links Trail route before making any more changes. 

 

In other action, the council:

• Held a public hearing and voted to authorize the issuance and sale of conduit revenue bonds in the amount of $10.5 million. These bonds will finance improvements for the Lincoln Place apartments and the Vadnais Heights Highlands apartments. After working with the city, the owner of the properties has agreed to include extra security measures and sustainability practices such as solar panels, low-energy light bulbs and green landscaping.

• Heard a presentation of the city’s 2020 financial audit from the firm CliftonLarsonAllen. The city received a GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

• Proclaimed April 30 Arbor Day and the month of May Arbor Month in the city of Mahtomedi.

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