January 20, 2021

Business Parking coming to downtown Monroe

Monroe Downtown Revitalization Program approves funds for former Barber Lumber location

Business parking zones are in the process of being added in downtown Monroe. The Monroe City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance adding the zones along the ease side of North Commerce Street from American Street to Marion Street during its December meeting.

“It is one of those things, personally, I ride that fence of wanting to do it because I think it would be beneficial, but where do you stop anytime someone has a problem with parking throwing up no parking signs in the town of Monroe,” councilman Sean Wilson said. “With a new business moving it and potential businesses in the Phifer buildings, I am leaning towards pulling the trigger and putting business parking on that side. It is hard enough keeping businesses in a small town, let’s help them.”

The issue of parking near downtown businesses came up earlier this year after parking spots were being taken up by residents of a nearby apartment building. The council also addressed this issue, citing what other cities do in similar situations.

“Four apartments, four designated parking spots. If you have two, three, four vehicles, that is your problem,” Wilson said. “You live in Des Moines, you get an apartment, there’s apartments around that city that have a lot stricter snow ordinances than Monroe has and it is one of those things, if parking is concern for you, buy a house or get an apartment that has parking. It is not the city’s problem to provide parking for you, but I could see making four designated spots, four units, four spots.”

Councilwoman Andrea Steenhoek agreed, saying she was also hesitant at first to regulate parking but saw the situation as a whole and wanted to make sure new businesses had every chance to prosper in town.

“I get it, we can’t put no parking signs or a stop sign just because one car is moving a little faster. But with new businesses coming and they are only doing it to irritate a business owner,” Steenhoek said.

Mayor Doug Duinink echoed that final thought and said he saw the situation play out, even after being addressed with those causing the issue.

“And it keep happening, I watched it. They have been talked to and now it is time for us to act,” Duinink said.

Wilson did add he would like to keep the process open to see how the city can help apartment building owners along with local businesses. There will be a second and third reading of the ordinance before it is put into code.

The council also approved funding from the Monroe Downtown Revitalization Program to Ralph and Susan Phifer for their property at 112 S. Commerce St., the former Barber Lumber Warehouse. The project included restoring the building to original stature and to keep it from deterioration if left vacant.

“This will be there second time but from what I have seen that is a good investment,” Duinink said.

The plan for the building, according to the Phifers, is to make it available for rental retail space, office areas and storage areas with the possibility of a venue rental area. The maximum of $7,500 was given from the program to the project, which totaled $18,253.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com