by Emory Robinson
On Thursday the Local Rag attended “Coffee with the Mayor” at Honey’s Café, which is a recurring social meeting with our new Mayor, Ed Williams, every third Thursday of the month from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. These meetings involve open discussion regarding the current affairs of our town. These involve any questions, comments, and/or concerns that members of our community may wish to vocalize.
The conversations during the session with Mayor Williams focused on a few key issues, most of which surround the 212 reconstruction and the difficulties of public parking and snow removal.
Big news from the gathering includes this year’s planned upgrades and additions to the north end of Broadway, most notably the Highway 78 intersection, which gets a brand new roundabout. Much of this discussion centered on the convenience, or lack thereof, regarding said roundabout. Concerns consisted mostly of commercial and recreational vehicles safely navigating the traffic circle. There seemed to be no apprehension on its necessity. Mayor Williams warned, “It is coming,” in regards to the road project.
In addition to a new roundabout we will see Broadway closed from Robinson Lane to 8th Avenue for repaving. The sidewalks at the north and south end of the downtown area will be redone and the curbs will be brought up to a standard set forth by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). In addition to making the sidewalks ADA compliant, measures to make the city pool ADA compliant came into discussion.
To make the city pool ADA compliant many renovations will need to be made to the pool area that could possibly compromise the integrity of the existing pool structure and the surrounding concrete pad. Because of the age and shallow depth of the concrete pad surrounding the pool, damage may be caused if a project of that magnitude were to be undertaken without proper planning. Moving the pool was also discussed, though space and funding would delay that project for many years.
On the subject of recreational vehicles, a minor uproar occurred surrounding the problem of summer RV parking along Main Street. A suggestion was proposed involving the use of the Civic Center parking lot (which is the only property owned by the City on which public parking is available) for campers and RVs during the tourism rush.
Questions were raised by a number of downtown business owners relating to the problematic winter parking on Main Street. The main concern being vehicles taking up prime parking in front of businesses for several hours, if not days, impeding traffic to the entrances of those businesses. Suggestions ranged from utilizing existing public parking to owners not parking in front of their own businesses.
Snow removal reared its ugly head numerous times during the discussion. Since it is not a viable daytime activity, due to high traffic on Main Street, a time has been set for Broadway to be cleared of cars during winter months. The tentative (though highly probable) time is set for 3:00 am to 5:00 am between the dates of October 1 and May 1. This means you may not park on Main Street at this time lest ye be towed. You will not be fined if your car is parked there and consequently towed, but you will have to pay a tow fee. A heavy emphasis was placed on the usage of signs to alert visitors and residents of these new laws.
A brief discussion on the safety of children at the Boys & Girls Club revealed that some residents fear for the well-being of our next generation when crossing the street from the club to Miner’s Park. Some suggestions included closing Villard Avenue during certain hours of the day and making parking illegal on that section of Villard to open up field of vision and allow for safer street crossing. It seemed that those options were not practical, nor was the proposal to fence in Miner’s Park. A story of a child struck by a Cadillac while skateboarding or walking across that section of street several years ago was a central argument. The child ran off before any information could be reported.
An honorable mention from the meeting was the desire to improve maintenance and infrastructure because of the high number of frozen pipes this winter. If you want to be involved in one of these community discussions, you can join every first Tuesday at Red Lodge Books & Tea or any third Thursday at Honey’s Café. Our new mayor would love for the entire community to be involved in these outreach programs.