No alley fight: Meeker mayor, trustees ask patience of petitioners who ask for access to alley between post office, Riegel Bldg.

MEEKER — If you’ve ever used the outgoing mailbox between the Riegel Building and the post office, you’ve navigated the narrow alley with it’s eclectic collection of poles and pipes and fencing, sharp 90 degree turns, and less than clear signage. The alley has proven to be a test of driving skills for any number of Meeker drivers, particularly during the winter months.
With growth comes change. For residents accustomed to cutting through the parking lot at what is now The Bistro, change first came in the form of a row of large, unnavigable rocks separating the Bistro’s parking area from the alley. Being a resourceful bunch, Meekerites changed their driving habits, making a sharp right behind the Post Office to exit on Park Street.
Change figured into the mix again in 2007, when the Town of Meeker added a line of diagonal parking spaces on the south side of Park Street. Those new parking spaces provided nine spaces of downtown area parking at the expense of access to the north-south alley behind the Post Office onto Park.
Folks made it through almost an entire winter before property owners brought their concerns — perceived failure to notify property owners, reduced property value, traffic safety, increased congestion, problems with mail delivery and snow removal, and the general inconvenience of having the alley access restricted — before a new mayor and the town board of trustees and asked for a change to be made.
Mayor Mandi Etheridge, who was a trustee when the decision was made to put in the Park Street parking, explained that reopening the alley would cost close to $10,000 in repairs to the sidewalk, curb, and gutter installed with the parking areas. At a regular board meeting in May, Etheridge said the matter could be considered when the budget planning process for 2009 began. Committed constituents arrived for public participation at the Oct. 21 board meeting armed with a petition of “close to 100 signatures” of citizens who support lifting the restriction on the alley’s access.
Etheridge thanked the group for their efforts and commended them for their “passion” toward something that affects the community, and encouraged those present to “think forward” in making their requests.
“Our board has to make decisions based on what is best for the community. When Party C comes to me in 12 months and wants to change this again, do we change it for them?” Etheridge asked.
“I’m not very eager to make a decision based on what should have been done in the past. I want a decision, if one is made, to be based on what is right for the community in the future, not based on the past.”
The board took the petition and the request under consideration, determining that a decision did not need to be made immediately regarding the future of the alley. “There are good reasons to keep it closed or to keep it open,” Etheridge said.
In other business:
n “It was a direct hit,” said Public Works Superintendent Russell Overton about a lightning strike at the Sage Hills pump house in September. The pump house, which is insured, will require substantial repairs. In the meantime, everything is being operated manually.
n Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey notified the board and staff that the department now has a “full complement” of six officers for the first time in a long while.
n The board scheduled a public hearing for the proposed water rate and water tap increases for the Nov. 4 meeting. The increases will affect both residential customers and bulk water consumers, domestic and commercial. The last rate increase was in 2004.