Downtown parking once again an issue at city council

During public comments at the regular meeting of city council held on Jan. 17, the issue of a lack of enough downtown parking spaces was brought up by resident Deniece McCormick.   

Mayor Kent Williams said to McCormick, “I hear you, it is a problem. At one time the city looked into purchasing property next to the old town hall, but that didn’t happen. This has been an ongoing discussion since I have been in office. The situation is there is no property available and if there was, then there is the problem of where to get the money to purchase and build it.”

Audience members, department heads and council members continued to discuss the problem and possible remedies that had been tried in the past.  At one time the police department had imposed tickets on cars remaining more than two hours and E.P.D. Chief Vranish said that, due to having to pay an officer to patrol Main Street and the fact that many of the businesses and offices on Main Street and the side streets require a customer to be there more than two hours, they discontinued the program.

Council member Jen Hegeman suggested that the types of vehicles parking downtown may be the issue rather than spaces available.

“Let’s say there are four employees in a business and that is four cars, then add a customer or two for each employee and that adds up to eight or ten vehicles,” Hegeman said. “I don’t have a solution either but as Evanston grows, maybe developing a parking area for employees away from Main Street would help. There really seems to be plenty of parking when you count the one over by Depot Square and next to the old post office. It is just that everyone wants to be right there in front of where they are going.”

When someone asked if a stop light could be put up on Front and 9th Street, Mayor Williams reminded people that Front Street is a state highway which WYDOT has control over and they determine stop lights. The discussion continued for some time with no resolution.

“We are open to suggestions,” Mayor Williams said. “We recognize the need and will continue to look for solutions.”

Prior to the public discussion, at the start of the meeting during council comments, David Welling congratulated Evanston choir teacher Heather Blackwell on being recognized as the Southwest District Teacher of the Year and for 25 years of teaching.

Mike Sellers said that Mark Tesoro had called to thank him and to tell him the SWOT bill had passed on first and second reading in the house. Tesoro told Sellers that the bill would not have passed without the support given by the city council and county commissioners.

Hegeman asked City Clerk Diane Harris if there was a way that the council members could receive the packet of information for the meetings any earlier because it was difficult for her to get them read in time when she receives them just hours before the meeting.

“I wait for all the departments to send me their information for the meeting and I don’t often get them until late on Friday,” Harris said. “It isn’t their fault; there is a backlog and they are working up to the last minute.  That is the reason we put them on digital now. Before I made copies and gave them to everyone and we hoped digital would be faster. I post it 24 hours ahead on our website.”

Hegeman thanked her and Mayor Williams told Hegeman he appreciated the comment and he understood the concern.

The council then confirmed new board appointments. Dan Wheeler was reappointed to the Lodging Tax Board for a term of three years ending in January 2026.  Nathan Prete was reappointed to the Urban Renewal Agency for a term of five years ending January 2028.  Ben Bell was appointed to the Uinta County Economic Development Commission (UCEDC) for a term of three years ending January 2026 and Dan Wheeler was reappointed to UCEDC for a term of three years ending January 2026.

Director of Engineering and Planning Dean Barker addressed a motion and two resolutions.

The motion asked the council to accept the low bid of $456,925 from SCI Inc. of Lyman and the resolution that followed was to authorize the agreement with SCI, Inc. for the installation of power conduit within the Evanston Union Center, which states the work will be completed by March 31,2023.

Barker said, “We had two bids, the one from SCI and the other was from Probst Electric from Cedar City, Utah. I checked the bids with Rocky Mountain Power to see if the bids met industry standards and they did. We have worked with SCI before and have had no problems. We need to finish getting this business park developed so we can get businesses in there.”

Mayor Williams added that the city had already had several properties in the business park being looked at by potential buyers.

The council approved the motion to accept the bid from SCI Inc. and approved the contract agreement.

Barker then asked the council to approve the second resolution of a change order for the 18th, 19th, and West Summit streets water replacement project.

“This is a change of time for completion only,” Barker said. “The completion date was to have been fall 2022 but because materials were not available, we need to change the date to the fall of 2023. We decided not to start in late summer. This is a time change; there is no change to the cost.”

The council approved the change order for the water replacement project.

The council went into an executive session to discuss the last agenda item to approve appointing a special prosecutor for the Evanston Municipal Court for case docket No. 22-0847.

Upon returning to the chambers the council voted to approve the appointment of the special prosecutor for case docket No. 22-0847due to a conflict of interest.

During department head comments, City Attorney Amanda Kirby thanked the council and mayor for their patience and support while she adjusts to her new job.

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