MAGNOLIA SPRINGS - At the July 9 Magnolia Springs workshop, town resident Joe Sankey voiced concerns over problems occurring due to an increasing volume of vehicles parking alongside town roads, and in yards in some instances, especially during the weekend.
“I’m becoming concerned about the safety issue this is causing near the piers,” Sankey said. “I know for a fact that this impedes traffic flow from time to time. What typically happens is the impeding comes when there’s so many people down at the river that they begin parking on both sides of the road, but it also occurs when they load and unload [kayaks, boats, etc.], particularly if they have trailers because then it completely blocks the traffic flow.”
This brings about concerns not only for the citizens but also for emergency vehicles that cannot maneuver around the volume of parked vehicles at peak hours. The issue is not a new one, as Sankey recalls dealing with the same issue back in 2009. He states that signage is a good first step, but understands that enforcing cooperation can be difficult.
“It gets overwhelming near the river over the weekend,” said councilmember Ben Dykema. “Trucks are parked right to where the living shoreline is, and Mayor Bob Holk recently tried to do something about getting a vehicle towed but we found out that towing is opening a can of worms.”
Holk discovered a vehicle cannot be towed without permission from the sheriff’s department, which cannot issue authority unless the vehicle is completely blocking the road. A warning can be issued stating if the owner has not moved in seven days the vehicle will be towed. Holk suggested interest in pursuing options for the town to try and make an agreement with a towing company in the future.
“The problem is if you were actually going to tow all of the improperly parked vehicles, you would need six tow trucks,” said Dykema. “We’ve done a good job on Rock Street with restricting parking, but now all the vehicles have moved to new locations and are blocking streets there.”
The town has recently hired a security guard who patrols specified areas to ensure public safety, and Dykema suggested more potential patrol areas to try to lessen the current issue.
Along with vehicles blocking the street, Sankey said many people will pull up and actually park in his yard. Over the course of a weekend he had multiple people knocking on his door to ask if they were allowed to park on his property as well as property he stated he had no rights over. Other times he’s had to ask people to leave his property.
“I have my college aged granddaughters and their younger siblings at my home sometimes, and I don’t want to feel threatened for them,” Sankey said. “I feel like the town has a responsibility for the safety of the citizens, and I feel if we solved the issue of overuse and misuse of the actual living shoreline that problem will more or less go away.”
Holk said the council has been reviewing ordinances to determine what can and cannot be done over the issue, and new signs have been put in places around town for no parking zones. He said there is currently no ordinance prohibiting parking on right of ways, but is unsure if creating one is the best solution.
“We’ve got new signs down in the problem area now, and the restrictions on Rock Street seem to help some,” Holk said. “I’m hoping with the new signs and more policing in that area that we can straighten things out. I don’t want to overreact and begin adopting no parking on right of ways ordinances or trying to close any roads.”
The council is in discussions on potentially changing the speed limit on Magnolia Springs Highway, and are actively seeking information on performing a traffic study in the area. They plan to continue to study ways to reduce this issue.