City, county discuss downtown parking

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

Parking issues were the focus at the city-county meeting Wednesday.

Mike Robbins, owner of Robbins Furniture and Design Gallery, previously addressed the city council about the downtown parking problem. He said employees at the county courthouse use the two-hour parking stalls, moving their cars during their breaks.

"He's pretty right, I think," Police Chief Paul Philipp said. "That block is one of the most intensely parked of the downtown blocks."

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County Commissioner Garry Ellingson said the issue has come up before, and the county recommended changing the time limit to one hour.

However, some officials present said they were concerned that would merely shift the problem to adjoining streets.

Other ideas included changing the arrangement of the stalls to diagonal to increase the number available or designating spots in the Plaza lot for county employees.

City Engineer Jon Erichson said the situation could be solved by allowing employees to park in the old library lot. They could be issued passes for free.

Both sides will continue looking into options to solve the problem.

Community Development Director Craig Hoium gave an update on the Job opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) proposal.

JOBZ, passed by the legislature this year, allows counties to set up zones where businesses would not have to pay taxes on capital gains or sales taxes, among other things. The program is design to stimulate economic growth in outstate Minnesota.

Twelve counties along Interstate 90, including Mower County, are working together to try and get the JOBZ designation.

Hoium said a meeting needs to be set up with area units of government to work on filling out the Sub Zone information sheet, which details specific areas within the county for JOBZ designation.

That information is supposed to be in by Aug. 15.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at