No-parking signs get emergency handling

Saturday, February 2, 2002

Cape Girardeau city manager Michael Miller signed an emergency traffic regulation Thursday, acting upon a petition signed by 18 residents who live on Park Avenue, one block west of Dempster Hall on Southeast Missouri State University's campus.

The regulation will allow police officers to immediately issue tickets for no parking on the west side of the street. Two signs are posted on the street now. At least one other sign was knocked down or pulled up when construction was being done on adjoining New Madrid Street.

The police and public works department had received several complaints from residents on Park Avenue since early fall, but nothing had been done earlier because the city has no ordinance prohibiting parking on the west side of the narrow, curbed street.

The city manager has the authority to put an emergency traffic regulation into effect for up to 90 days. By that time, the city council should have an ordinance in place, Miller said.

Tim Gramling, assistant public works director, said two new signs will be put up either Monday or Tuesday. He said before the city puts up the signs, it must first locate gas lines in the area.

At least one resident, Vanessa Atchison, isn't convinced that the problem will be corrected.

"Now, if we can get them to enforce the law," Atchison said Friday afternoon. "If they don't, we'll have to take other measures. We'll pull out our picket signs and get out there and make them park somewhere else if we have to. Right now, they're still parking right in front of the signs. It's like they don't care."

Residents along Park Avenue say numerous complaints were made to the city that the street was too narrow to have parking on both sides. They said they were concerned about emergency vehicle access. They also had problems getting in and out of their driveways.

Police Sgt. Jack Wimp said he assessed the situation Thursday and made a recommendation to chief Steve Strong to approach the city manager.

"We looked into it and saw the concern of the citizens and wanted to take care of it and make sure the traffic was safe through there," said Wimp, who is in charge of the police traffic division.

Along with the petition -- which was given to Ward 3 councilman Jay Purcell -- residents along the block also submitted a videotape of a city sanitation truck trying to maneuver through the parked cars.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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