By ANDREA VARGO
"I'm shocked and disappointed," said Mayor Mark Custer Tuesday, about the situation for the park and ride lot that was to be built behind the north side businesses between 8th Ave. and 9th Ave. on Highway 12.
All the council members expressed disbelief and concern in one way or another over the refusal of some of the owners to sign off on the project.
Those businesses that have signed the papers to allow the parking lot to be built are the Posey Patch, Joe's Sport Shop, and the Howard Lake Herald.
Refusing to sign are Maurice Bryan, owner of the bakery building, Mike Thoennes, owner of the building that houses 42nd Street, and Pat Van Oss, owner of Old Town Gallery.
These last two owners were on the task force that designed and requested the park and ride lot.
"It was their idea," said Councilman Shelly Reddemann.
Councilman Al LePage said, "Isn't this what they wanted? Have they changed their minds?"
In response to some of the questions, Councilwoman Jean Schmidt tried to explain, "They agreed in principle and now they are changing their minds."
The council is running out of time to start the project, since the bids were opened in May and there are only a certain number of days available before those bids have to be awarded.
"They are going to have to fish or cut bait," said Custer.
"Brad DeWolf has met with one of the business owners over 20 times, and this costs the city a lot of money," said Custer.
Reddemann told the Herald that the city has over $35,000 into this project and has nothing to show for it.
The council will extend personal invitations to all the business owners from the park and ride lot area to the July 7 meeting, where a final decision will be made.
"Maybe it isn't as bad as we think, and we can resolve this," said Custer.
With the completion of the Highway 12 improvement project, there will be no parking on the street in front of those businesses that are involved in the park and ride lot.
This would mean that employees would probably take up all the parking behind and along side the buildings, and customers would have to cross Highway 12 to shop or do business on that side of the highway.
"We need to get this thing going or abandon it," said Custer.
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