Council addresses intersection issues

Falls City Council member Angie Nolte brought the issue of a hard-to-navigate intersection to the agenda for the Monday, April 7, meeting, describing the corner at 19th and Stone as “dangerous” and calling for changes before “someone gets hurt.”

The issue, and others involving parking and visibility, were addressed during the meeting.

Mrs. Nolte said businesses in the area agreed with her and photos were presented that illustrated the problem.  

With two-way traffic and angle parking on the west side of the 1800 block on Stone, visibility, especially for east-west drivers, had become a challenge at the intersection.  The situation was exacerbated when larger and longer vehicles angle-parked.

Mrs. Nolte suggested that Stop signs be added on Stone, creating a four-way stop, and that possibly the parking angle be changed or that some stalls be identified only for compact cars.

Alan Romine, who lives near the intersection, agreed that alterations were needed.  And so did Eric Froeschl, owner-operator of a business on the west side of the 1800 block.  Froeschl suggested eliminating one parking stall and widening and decreasing the angle of the others.  

Councilman Don Ferguson, whose business location is west of the intersection, noted how east-west drivers have had to “stick their nose out” in order to locate north-south traffic.  

Councilman Jim Wisdom had a more dramatic solution:  “change traffic back to one-way.”  

Attorney Mike Dunn cited a City ordinance that states that vehicles 19 feet or longer are not supposed to angle park.  It is doubtful the ordinance has ever been enforced, but still it’s on the books.

City Administrator Gary Jorn urged that the new-look downtown area be preserved as best as possible.  He agreed with others that widening and changing the parking angle and establishing a four-way stop might solve the problem.  Jorn said trying to enforce some sort of special compact regulations would be difficult.

Council members agreed and also voted to eliminate one stall.  The two new Stop signs are in place.

Across the street, issues have been raised about parking in front of Falls City Auto Supply (east side of Stone).  Parking is parallel but some drivers park for extended periods of time, which hampers access for Auto Supply customers.  It was suggested that one-hour parking limits be in place on business days.  But Councilman Jerry Oliver wondered if a shorter limit might be of greater benefit to Auto Supply, and possibly other businesses on that side of Stone.  The City will discuss the parking time limit issue with interested parties before taking any action.

In one other parking development, Council voted to eliminate the southeast corner stall on Stone.  This action was also taken in the interest of safety and visibility.

J.L. Spray, Lincoln, an attorney representing Leon Frederick of Falls City, spoke on Frederick’s behalf regarding utility rates charged by the City that he said are “unfair.”  Spray presented a lengthy list (39) of churches, charities and other non-profits that he said are charged a rate that is “discriminatory.”  Spray claimed that the rate charged these entities amounts to a tax — a way to recoup property taxes — and is “unfair.”

After Spray’s presentation, no one on the Council made a comment.

In other developments, the Council:
—Heard a presentation from Dan Duren of Benefit Management about health insurance costs.  Duren said the new plans have been “a win-win” for employees and the City and are “working very, very well.”  Savings he cited were over $130,000.

—Received a presentation from Cindy Santo, Sheriff Randy Houser and educator Troy Nelson about the (then) upcoming citywide clean-up and how effective these regular events have been.

—Learned from Mayor Tim Hersh that Jerry Clark had recently received a certificate for “Outstanding Water Operator.”

—Heard a report and then approved a request to use the Stanton Lake area for an EMS mock motor vehicle accident demonstration during EMS Week at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 23.  Students will be welcome to watch.  

—Learned from Chamber/Main Street executive David Branch that two waves of Model A and Model T Fords from the Kansas City area are planning a stop in Falls City on April 25.  They will park near the Grand Weaver Hotel and spaces will be reserved for them.  Branch also reported about the July 4-5 barbecue contest and other activities that will be associated with it.  The Journal will go into detail in a future issue.

—Approved building permit requests for a garage/shop at 1924 Fulton and at 1724 Harlan.

—Passed a resolution appointing Alan Romine as director and Merle Veigel as alternate director to the Mean Management Committee and Board of Directors.

—Authorized Mayor Hersh to sign a proclamation recognizing April 2014 as Fair Housing Month.

—Authorized a temporary Stop sign on McLean at 35th Street to help accommodate construction at the airport.

—Approved the recommendation from the Housing Authority Board for four bids for Owner Occupied Grant improvements.

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