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Seasonal parking gets another look Monday

Rochester City Council slated to discuss goals of 2019 policy, along with potential changes.

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A sign lets drivers know of Rochester's seasonal parking restrictions Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
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Snow plows aren’t in most people’s thoughts these days, but concerns about snow-covered streets will be tackled by the Rochester City Council on Monday.

The council will revisit the city’s seasonal parking ordinance during its 3:30 p.m. study session.

Expected to be discussed are how effective the policy adopted in 2019 has been and whether it should be tweaked or discontinued.

“This evaluation will look at balancing the needs of safe/accessible streets and providing early season street maintenance activities while looking at the duration of the seasonal parking,” Public Works Director Wendy Turri wrote in the agenda for the council meeting.

RELATED: 7 things about the seasonal parking ordinance

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The materials provided to the council ahead of the meeting show that several seasonal-parking goals have been achieved.

Damage claims related to winter street maintenance have reportedly decreased by 75 percent, and Turri’s report states the city has saved more than $165,000 in equipment and labor costs each year.

Additionally, she reports the fire department, public transit and public works staff operating large vehicles have stated the streets are more accessible since the policy was put into place.

The seasonal policy limits on-street parking from Oct. 1 to May 1 to alternate sides of the street between 2 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The goal is to increase the effectiveness of plowing, as well as make room for spring and fall street sweeping and other maintenance.

Turri’s report notes that the goals of reducing parking confusion and increasing the efficiency of related enforcement have seen limited success.

In April, the council asked Turri and her staff to look at the potential for shortening the length of the seasonal restrictions.

“It easily could be from Nov. 1 to April 1,” council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick said, adding that other measures could be taken for early or late winter storms.

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The later start and earlier ending would match policies in St. Cloud, Woodbury and Blaine.

Rochester’s earliest recorded measurable snowfall was on Sept. 26; he average first snowfall is in early November.

The latest snowfall recorded in the city was May 15; the last measurable snow typically occurs in mid-April.

A previous review of Minnesota’s 15 largest cities and 11 smaller cities near Rochester shows policies ranged from declaring a snow emergency when snow has fallen to banning all on-street parking during specific nighttime hours.

Minneapolis and St. Paul implement even- and odd-side parking requirements only after a snow emergency is called. Other metro-area communities ban parking for three- or four-hour periods throughout the winter to allow for snow removal.

The council meets in the chambers at the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE, and the meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas. It is also available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of July 12 include:

Rochester

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• City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday in city council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will livestream at www.rochestermn.gov/agendas and available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

• Charter Commission, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 104 of City Hall, 201 Fourth St. SE.

• Energy Commission, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in room 104 of City Hall.

• Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers of the Government Center

Olmsted County

• Olmsted County Justice Council, 6 p.m. Tuesday in conference room 2 of the government center.

• Planning Advisory Commission, 7 p.m. Thursday in the board chambers of the government center.

Rochester Public Schools

• School Board, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom of the Edison Building, 615 Seventh St. SW.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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