City official says switching to diagonal parking on Mitchell's Main Street could add over 70 spots
The city would be forced to close off Main Street for potentially a whole day or longer to remove snow if diagonal parking were implemented, which sparked a shocking reaction for Councilman Dan Allen
MITCHELL — Talks of implementing diagonal parking along Mitchell’s Main Street have surfaced once again.
During Monday’s Mitchell City Council meeting, Public Works Director Joe Schroeder said switching to diagonal parking on Main Street would significantly boost the number of parking spots. However, he explained new challenges would arise, including the loss of a center lane for trucks to unload material to businesses and snow removal issues.
If Main Street were to transition away from the existing parallel parking and switch to diagonal parking stretching from Sixth Avenue to Railroad Street near The Depot, Schroeder said it could add between roughly 70 and 120 parking spots depending on the angle. As of now, there are 134 parking spots on Main Street stretching from Sixth Avenue to Railroad Street.
“If we were to incorporate 45 degree angle parking, we could bring that up to 206. If we did 60 degree parking, it would bring us up to 258, almost double,” Schroeder said.
The discussion of downtown diagonal parking emerged after the council recently approved adding bump out features to another Main Street intersection as part of the ongoing streetscape project, which will eliminate between four or eight parking spots at the Third Avenue and Main Street intersection. About a decade ago, the council examined transitioning to diagonal parking when the streetscape project was being discussed.
Losing downtown parking from the bump out features that mimic what’s at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Main Street has sparked concerns for council member Dan Sabers, who has echoed the sentiment that Main Street is already grappling with a shortage of parking. After hearing Sabers’ concerns, Council President Kevin McCardle requested the city explore diagonal parking to potentially make up for lost parking spots.
Snow removal challenges, delivery truck parking
As of now, Mitchell’s Main Street has one center lane and two parallel parking lanes on the edges. The center lane is frequently used by trucks and freight haulers to deliver products to Main Street businesses, but Schroeder said moving to diagonal parking would eliminate the center lane for freight deliveries.
“You would lose your center turn lane for deliveries. Deliveries would either block traffic or they would have to use the side street or alley,” Schroeder said of the changes delivery trucks would see under a diagonal parking layout.
The impact diagonal parking would have on snow removal would pose perhaps the biggest challenge. Schroeder said the city would be forced to close off Main Street for potentially a whole day to remove snow if diagonal parking were implemented, which sparked a reaction from council member Dan Allen, who said, “Wow.”
According to Schroeder, the city of Sioux Falls blocks off Phillips Avenue for up to 32 to 36 hours while the city is removing snow from the street.
“Once they do start their snow emergency, you’re not allowed to park on Phillips Avenue for that time or you are ticketed and towed,” Schroeder said.
The width of Main Street is 56 feet, which is the same width as Phillips Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls. While Phillips Avenue has diagonal parking, Schroeder offered his personal experiences he’s had driving on the Sioux Falls road.
“If you drive down Phillips in your vehicle, you feel somewhat uncomfortable because it’s so tight… If Main Street was full of dually pickups, we’d have a problem,” he said.
Council member Susan Tjarks said Mitchell Main Street and Beyond leader Ashley Endres relayed some feedback from downtown business owners about the potential of diagonal parking. Tjarks indicated the responses Endres received entailed mixed support, along with concerns of losing the center lane.
“There were those who said we need that center lane for deliveries, and we use it all the time. Then there were others who said, ‘It would be nice to have a couple of extra spaces.’ It’s one of those things that some people want and some don’t,” Tjarks said, noting Mitchell Main Street and Beyond is not taking a formal position on the parking debate at this point.
In response to Tjarks’ question asking for a recommendation, Schroeder said it all depends on the goal.
“If your goal is strictly to increase spaces, then our personnel would have to figure out how to remove snow differently. I do think it needs to be taken into account that those businesses might not have parking for 14 days out of the year when we have snow storms,” Schroeder said.
Another option that could reduce the challenges of snow removal is implementing diagonal parking on one side of the street and leaving the other with parallel parking.
As the council mulled over ideas to address Main Street parking, council member Jeff Smith questioned whether there is a Main Street parking issue under the existing layout.
Smith noted there are public parking lots scattered throughout the downtown area where vehicles can park. As Smith put it, “I don’t know if we have a parking problem or a walking problem?”
Mayor Bob Everson chimed into the discussion and said he’s never had an issue finding a parking spot in downtown Mitchell.
No action was taken by the council on Main Street parking, as it was a discussion item. However, the council indicated interest in receiving feedback from the public on the topic of diagonal parking vs. parallel parking to consider moving forward.