Ordinance changes permit parking on Marquette’s riverfront

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Marquette residents and property owners will now have to pay $10, and non-residents  $50, for a permit to park in the city’s north riverfront lot. The rest of the riverfront parking will remain free and open to the public.

The council, at its regular meeting April 11, unanimously approved changes to the city ordinance regarding parking in that restricted area after a several months-long discussion revealed that allowing only city residents to park there, with a free, city-issued permit, could violate several laws.

The ordinance designating the 11 parking stalls for resident use only was created after residents often complained they had nowhere to park on the riverfront, particularly on the weekends.

However, the city’s attorney, Dan Key, argued it was discriminatory to non-residents and the city had no compelling reason to offer spots to residents cost-free.

At last week’s meeting, city manager Denise Schneider said people have already been asking about getting permits for the season, which drove the council to take action on changing the ordinance.

Per the updated ordinance, each permit will be issued for a specific motor vehicle and cannot be transferred from one vehicle to another. The permit must be attached and visible through the windshield of the vehicle. A person may not be issued more than two vehicle parking permits.

City hall will issue the permits, which will be good for the calendar year, expiring Dec. 31. A new application may be made any time after Jan. 1 each year.

Another provision in the updated ordinance will prohibit parking in the lot for more than 24 hours.

Upon conviction, anyone found violating any ordinance provisions will be subject to a $100 fine. 

The fine was previously $250. It was the cost of the fine that prompted the council to discuss the matter in the first place, after a tourist who parked in the restricted area without a permit complained about receiving a ticket.

Utility rate ordinance

The council approved an ordinance updating the city’s utility rates and service fees.

With the adjustments, the base fee will go down, while users will pay more for the actual gallons they use, said councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald.

“The elderly and singles’ rates will go down,” she added, “while, for families and motels, it will go up.”

Brodie-Fitzgerald said the changes were strongly suggested by the state at the time of the city’s latest audit. An independent study, she noted, found the city was “severely under-billing” for what it charged for water and sewer.

“It will be better to increase a little bit, rather than a big whammy all at once,” said mayor Larry Breuer.

The changes still won’t be enough to cover future projects, such as reservoir repair, waste water treatment maintenance and treatment for the Timber Ridge well. 

“Even with an increase in rates, it will only cover expenses,” Schneider explained. “Capital projects will have to be paid by casino revenues.”

Council members Brodie-Fitzgerald, Eleanor Soulli, Steve Eagle and Cindy Halvorson voted in favor of the adjustments, while John Ries voted “no.”

No wake buoys

The council discussed its options regarding no wake buoys, citing the expense of replacing damaged or lost buoys. 

Replacement and repair depends on the season, said public works director Jason Sullivan, who noted that last year’s continual high waters were especially harmful. Having them taken in and out each year costs $2,000 alone.

Eagle said he’d spoken with members of the dock commission, who expressed hope the casino might be willing to split half the cost of purchasing new buoys and taking them in and out of the river.

“It’s their marina,” he said. “The buoys are a benefit to them and their customers.”

So far, in communications with the casino, Breuer said they had only been willing to contribute toward having the buoys taken in and out, but that he would continue to speak with them.

Eagle said the dock commission also discussed not having buoys at all. Ries wondered if placing several signs along the riverfront would be sufficient.

Sullivan said he wasn’t sure if that would work, noting that the Corps of Engineers may require a certain number of buoys.

Halvorson worried not having buoys could be dangerous for people launching their boats, especially with families.

“There are a lot of people on the docks putting their boats in,” she said.

The issue was tabled until the next meeting, with Sullivan promising to assess the city’s remaining buoys and find out the specific requirements regarding buoy placement.

Street sweeper

The council approved purchasing a used street sweeper for $27,000, along with $2,900 for transport fees, contingent upon the city of McGregor agreeing to pay half the cost.

Website

Citing issues with the current city website, the council approved having Studio 91 create and host a new website, at a cost of $600. The web address will also be shortened, from cityofmarquetteiowa.com to just marquetteiowa.com.

Arbor Day

Breuer read an Arbor Day proclamation for the city of Marquette and recognized resident Don Smalley for his work in establishing the city’s tree board and caring for its trees over the years.

Smalley, who attended the meeting, said Marquette has had a tree board for 14 years, since it decided to go for Tree City USA recognition. He’s been helping the city manage its trees for over 25 years, however.

“It’s my form of community service. I get great satisfaction from it,” he said, noting that he’s seen the planting of nearly 700 trees.

Smalley also recognized other members of the tree board, Dennis Mason and Darren Matthew, for their efforts.

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