October 26, 2021

Section of street parking changes fails to pass

Citizen arguments sway council decision for proposed parking restrictions

Proposed street parking restrictions along the 1200-1400 block of South Sixth Avenue East failed to receive enough support from the Newton City Council to pass. Residents who live near the affected area argued against the ordinance amendment, which only garnered three votes from council members.

Upon reviewing the 25-foot-wide street, the city’s traffic safety committee decided the path was not wide enough to safely accommodate parking on both sides. If the amendment had reached its third consideration from council and was adopted into city code, parking would have been prohibited on the south side.

Surveys were sent to adjacent property owners. Of those who received and sent a reply back to the city, six were in favor and six were opposed.

The proposed parking restrictions on South Sixth Avenue East were considered by council in conjunction with two other agenda items regarding parking restrictions on the 600-700 block of East 15th Street South and the 600-700 block of East 14th Street South. Together, the three streets form a horseshoe.

However, the restrictions extend through the west curve of the horseshoe. The three residents who spoke against the amendment all lived outside the curve.

Mary Kirk, who lives along South Sixth Avenue East, said the neighborhood has never had any problems with street parking. Kirk drives a full-size car and has not experienced obstruction issues. The only time she sees multiple cars, she said, is during the holiday seasons.

“I live exactly two minutes from the (Newton YMCA), so if there happened to be a delivery truck or something that was blocking a little bit it would probably take 30 seconds to go the other direction,” Kirk said. “We are not a one-way, blocked in street … I’ve seen firetrucks go down and have not seen them have a problem.”

Newton resident Bill Morris claimed one person’s complaint resulted in the proposed street changes. Morris also drew attention to the total number of surveys received back by the city. Only 28 people responded to the surveys, he said, but a little less than 60 houses are in the affected area.

“So you’ve got 30 people who haven’t responded to it, yet,” Morris said. “… One person should not control 50 houses.”

Cynthia Gray, another Newton resident, said she also never had a problem driving up and down the streets. Unless there’s a special occasion, like a party or a holiday, the streets seem fine to her. Gray said she hopes the city will keep the parking the way it is now.

Councilperson Evelyn George said she doesn’t see an issue to have designated parking on one side of the street when there are so few cars doing so. Councilperson Mark Hallam said with all due respect to the citizens who spoke up, to him the deciding factor is the traffic safety committee deemed it unsafe.

“If it’s unsafe, it’s unsafe,” Hallam said.

Regardless, the second reading failed in a 3-2 vote. Craig Trotter and Steve Mullan both voted “no.” Councilperson Randy Ervin was not present at the city council meeting. Newton Mayor Mike Hansen said ordinances need four votes from the council to pass through the system.

The Newton City Council approved the second readings of the parking restrictions affecting the 600-700 block of East 15th Street South and the 600-700 block of East 14th Street South.

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.