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MEEKER — At the request of some citizens, the board of trustees opened a public discussion concerning the closure of the alley exit on Park Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets behind the Post Office.
Business owners, property owners and residents presented concerns about traffic congestion, safety hazards, snow removal, truck traffic, reduction of property value, customer and employee parking and a lack of notification prior to the closure of the access dominated citizen complaints.
Most of the citizens present at the meeting said the only possible solution to the problems they are experiencing is to reopen access to Park Street through the alley.
One resident commented that the access has “been open for 100 years.” Another said the manner and method of closing the alley access was “rather rude.”
All of the citizens present felt they had not been properly notified of the change before it was made.
Mayor Mandi Etheridge addressed the property owners and residents, explaining the board’s reluctance to made a quick decision to reopen the alley, “The council went through a relatively lengthy public process concerning downtown public parking that started more than a year ago. We tried as best we could to involve anyone who was willing to come help us solve it. We put up $250,000 in our budget last year to help solve the parking problem. These six parking lots on Park Avenue are a fraction of the solution we came up with. In the big picture of things, we didn’t just add six spaces, we hopefully solved a small parking crisis for our downtown community.”
The cost of tearing out the new sidewalk, leveling it and pouring new concrete would cost at least $10,000. Citizens argued that if the board made a mistake, they should be willing to fix it.
“I don’t see it as a mistake, I see it as something that’s different, something that’s been there 100 years that’s changed and people are having a hard time dealing with it. I empathize with that. But from a town board perspective, I believe what the council voted on last year to make that change has made the downtown area better,” Etheridge said, adding that the necessary funds to reverse the process are not in in this year’s budget.
“There is no private invitation to the process of democracy. You need to read the paper, attend public meetings and, if necessary, stop by town hall and ask about what’s going on,” Etheridge said. “Our intention is to look into it, see what we can do to solve the problem until budget season in the fall. Come October when we do the budget, if we find that we did make a mistake, we can plan to do something then,” Etheridge said.
In other business, the board of trustees:
Heard a request from the Ute Park Committee to procure a permanent source of water for Ute Park. The board agreed to have town staff look into the recommendations. The committee also asked for authorization to go forward with a plan to install permanent security lighting prior to the Smoking River Pow Wow at the end of July and to install removable lighting for the evening activities at the pow wow.
White River Electric and Ducey’s Electric have volunteered to install the lighting, if approved. The board scheduled a public hearing to further discuss the subject of lighting, scheduled for June 3.
The board also approved a special events liquor license for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce for the Bark in the Park to be held June 7 at Circle Park in Meeker.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the mountain lion statue project. The full-size bronze will be placed at the corner of Sixth and Market streets once sufficient funds have been raised.