Parking problem prompts review

A city administrator plans to examine the parking situation near Max’s Dairy Bar to ensure proper traffic flow at the intersection of East Benton and Bellefontaine streets.

Wapakoneta resident Paul Janning brought the parking issue to Wapakoneta City Council’s attention during Wednesday’s meeting. He presented two photographs showing no curb markings or yellow paint, which is typically used to indicate a no parking area, on the curb along the north side of East Benton Street, and one showing traffic congestion.

Safety-Service Director Bill Rains said he plans to visit the intersection today and review legislation regarding the situation.

“I am going to look at the ordinance and see what our authority is, but I think city council was pretty clear in their direction — we are going to make that corner no parking,” Rains told the Wapakoneta Daily News after the meeting. “I will look at the north and south sides of the street because we need to be so far back from that stop sign at Bellefontaine Street.”

During his presentation, Janning said parking along the north side can create a traffic problem especially when more than one car tries to park in a stretch in front of Max’s Dairy Bar and additional vehicles from Bellefontaine Street attempt to travel west. He pointed out there is not enough room to pass by crossing the center line if cars also are traveling east on East Benton Street, thus resulting in traffic backing up onto Bellefontaine Street.

“I also don’t know what the law is regarding parking close to a private driveway, but if a vehicle parks in the area where the curb is parallel to the centerline of the street then the front of that vehicle is very close to the entrance of the drive-thru — it may be that the entire area should be a no parking zone,” Janning said. “At a minimum, I would ask that the slanted curb, to the east of the parallel curb, be painted yellow to remind motorists there is no parking in that area. Restricting parking in that area would not impact the business of Max’s Dairy Bar since there is a drive-thru for people who do not want to park and walk to the window.”

With the current reconstruction project on East Benton Street expected to be completed by the end of September, Janning noted this would be an opportune time to paint this curb and curbs in need of repainting which were part of the reconstruction project a few years ago because the condition of the paint is in bad shape.

City Law Director Dennis Faller explained motorists should be aware there is no parking near a cross walk or near an intersection so curb restrictions are not necessary all the way to the street corner.

Councilor-at-large Dan Graf, who is chair of the Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee, said city ordinance stipulates no parking within 5 feet of an alley or private drive.

Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. inquired if city administrators intended for parking to be permitted in the area or was it an oversight and the curb needs painted. He also asked if a structure at the rear of Max’s Dairy Bar was still scheduled to be razed since it was to be used as a parking lot.

Rains admitted he should have checked the area for no parking designations after reconstruction of Bellefontaine Street. He also noted the structure behind the ice cream stand is no longer scheduled to be razed for additional parking.

Finkelmeier and 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier directed Rains to have the slanted and curved portion of the north side curb of East Benton Street painted yellow to restrict parking in the area.

“If we would change parking on Douglas Street or any of the streets in that area for access for safety vehicles there, then I would say one of the major east-west corridors is not one of the ones we want blocked,” Finkelmeier said. “We certainly don’t want a rescue squad blocked there.”