Stillwater to enforce winter restrictions

As winter approaches city officials are reminding residents and businesses about the rules for the season.

A report at the Stillwater City Council meeting Nov. 19 reviewed the city’s policies.

Citations will soon be issued for winter parking violation according to Police Chief John Gannaway.

“Winter parking is in effect and we’ve just been issuing warnings with the ugly orange stickers to make people aware of it, and we’ll now be issuing citations,” he said.

Effective Nov.1 through April 1, the city of Stillwater enforces odd/even parking regulations. That means all vehicles parked on city streets must be parked on the side of the street that bears addresses that are odd or even according to the day except as specified in the Stillwater City Code Section 51-5. On odd-numbered days, vehicles must park on the side of the street with odd addresses, and on even numbered days, vehicles must park on the even side. Between the hours of 7 p.m. and midnight, drivers must move their vehicle to the side of the street where parking is allowed for the next day.

City Engineer Shawn Sanders also reported that discussions about handling snow removal have taken place.

“Myself, Tim Moore and (City Administrator) Larry Hansen met regarding snow removal, and we figured out a way to remove snow in the wind rows along the curb lines,” Sanders said. “This includes snow on the sidewalk. At this point we probably wouldn’t have time to set up a snow removal district, so we’re going to commit to doing a better job of clearing the wind rows and sidewalks and see what happens.”

Both Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki and Council Member Doug Menikheim noted that snow removal could be really fluid but felt that more work needed to be done to establish a district going forward.

“As a follow up to that, we had a very interesting meeting with business owners about what to do with sidewalks downtown,” Hansen said. “The majority said we should enforce the existing ordinance that we have that requires people to have all their snow and ice removed 24 hours after a snow event. If they don’t, we’ll do it for them and assess it to their property.”

He added that the city planned to enforce in this manner and that council should probably expect some angry phone calls when enforcement steps up.

“Last year was the worst year ever,” Hansen said. “For those people playing by the rules it’s not fair to them to tax them if they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. I go downtown a lot more in the winter than I do in the summer, and I know what’s going on and who’s cleaning up and who isn’t. It was terrible. So we’re going to enforce that ordinance, so you are likely to get angry phone calls from people, I just wanted to make sure that was okay and tell you ahead of time.”

Menikheim and Council Member Ted Kozlowski said to bring it on.

“While we’ve been lax in the past, I fully intend to enforce it,” Hansen said. “I will send CSO officers and have them write citations. You will get phone calls because people aren’t used to it, but to tax everyone would just not be fair to those that are playing by the rules.”

The council also:

• Learned that the Convention and Visitors Bureau tax income has increased by 13 percent and that Stillwater is in pretty good shape when it comes to office and retail space usage. Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the council that office space is trending down and retail has hit bottom and is hopefully trending back up. Data was found through the Co-star system that the city enrolled in.

• Announced that the Truth in Taxation hearing will take  place on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.

• Declared Nov. 19, 2013 Nichole Beattie Zombie day. Beattie is the writer of the show The Walking Dead and is a SAHS alumna.

• Lifted the moratorium on events that has prevented new events from coming to Stillwater for the past two years.

• Decided to look into new ways to fund the facade program, to restore facades. The idea of going to the Legislature was floated as well as the dissolving Tax Increment Finance district that will give the city 50 cents on the dollar, and creating a revolving loan program.

• Heard a first reading of a water management tax district which would prevent double billing to some people in watershed districts.

• Learned that the repaving of the riverside parking lots torn up because of levee work could be 90 percent finished by the end of the year weather permitting.

• Agreed to talk with Oak Park Heights about possibly joining on a street project near the government center and Oak Park Elementary School.