Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 2, 2004

A good problem to have

Busy main street leads to parking issues

By Ryan Gueningsman

With the addition of two new businesses in downtown Lester Prairie, parking issues have become a concern for many residents.

Garbers' Meats opened for business in November, and Nelson's Marketplace opened last week.

With the influx of activity downtown, where are people supposed to find a parking spot?

Lester Prairie Business Association President Mike Merriman has proposed turning the downtown block of Juniper Avenue into a one-way street.

"What exists now are approximately 18 parking spots on the block," Merriman said. "By putting in parallel parking on the east side of the street, and diagonal parking on the west, that will give the block approximately 40 parking stalls."

Merriman said the one-way would run from south to north, and the alley behind Angvall Hardware and Mercantile would also become a one-way to eliminate traffic turning onto the street.

It was also suggested by Merriman to designate two spots in front of the post office as 15-minute parking zones to "keep traffic flowing."

Some concern has also been expressed about the lot north of Garbers' Meats being used for public parking.

"The lot next to the horseshoe pits is a private lot," said Art Mallak of Realty Plus, who owns the lot. "It is not for public parking. It is for tenants and employees of the beauty salon and the tax place, in order to free up spaces on the road."

Mallak has posted signs recently stating that the lot is private. At this point, he does not foresee building a garage on the land for tenant use.

Carey Nelson, owner of Nelson's Marketplace, said that for his open house and for his first few days of being open for business, he has "had to carry out groceries a long distance."

"To survive, we need an immediate thing done rather than wait until this spring," Nelson said. "I am looking at renting property across the street for parking space."

Nelson, who also owns a store in Brownton, said that he counted the number of feet across the street, and the street is the same width as downtown Brownton. He added that people in Brownton angle park on both sides of the street, and said that "would be an overall success."

Both Lester Prairie Police Chief Bob Carlson and Mayor Eric Angvall noted their concern of people "shortcutting" to get to the post office parking lot once the street becomes a one-way.

"I think the one-way street will be a good thing, but people will have to learn that they won't be able to get into the post office parking lot from the north," Carlson said.

Lester Prairie assistant city clerk Darla Krueger said that there hasn't been anything new done recently in regards to parking, but that the council did give preliminary approval to Merriman's plan with the option to revisit the issue at its Monday, Feb. 9 meeting.

Angvall also noted that the one-way is not necessarily the final answer, just one of several options being looked into.

He also stated that someone from the city is planning on contacting the railroad commission to check on the availability of using the land that abuts the railroad tracks as a temporary parking solution.

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