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Greenfield adds parking issue to its 41st Street laundry list

Laundromat's concerns initiate debate by city officials

Aug. 26, 2013

Greenfield — As it finalizes the reconstruction of 41st Street south of Howard Avenue, the city is making an effort to meet the parking needs of area business operators with minimal impact to surrounding neighbors.

In an uncharacteristically lengthy debate, the Common Council last week considered a request from Keith Manson and Susan Link-Manson, owners of Star Tanning and Laundromat, 4101 W. Howard Ave., to make special parking accommodations within public right of way.

As originally proposed, plans for the 41st Street reconstruction, which is currently nearing completion, called for the installation of full curb and green space in the right of way area along the eastern length of the building, thereby eliminating six to seven off-street parking spaces available for customer use.

Valued parking

Attorney Kimberly Kershek, representing the business owners, stressed that the availability of off-street parking is essential to the laundromat's survival, as well as that of two other businesses housed in the building, including the tanning salon and a now-vacant beauty salon space. Tenants of a rental unit in the building also depend upon off-street parking, Kershek said.

Kershek noted that Manson and Link-Manson have invested considerably in the once-blighted property since purchasing it in 2005. At that time, they entered into an existing agreement with the city for the provision of parking in the public right of way.

"We were already told when we bought it that we did not have adequate off-street parking, even including the right of way," Link-Manson said. "If you remove one third of our parking, you remove one third of the value, or more, of that property."

Link-Manson presented the council with the signatures of more than 50 neighbors and customers, who regularly frequent or live in the area, in support of maintaining off-street parking adjacent to the building.

Curbing the issue

However, City Attorney Roger Pyzyk noted that under the 2005 agreement, which actually dates back to 1984, the city is not obligated to grant the business owners any off-street parking.

"Working with the property owners does not mean working from the standpoint of giving them these extra parking spots on the right of way," Pyzyk said. "The agreement is, we give you 90 days notice and you get off the right of way."

The decision facing the council was whether to enforce the existing agreement, requiring the property owners to completely vacate the right of way, Pyzyk explained, or to modify the agreement to make alternate parking accommodations.

Specifically, the owners proposed that the city consider adjusting the placement of curb and green space to allow for some parking spaces to be maintained alongside the building.

Among concerns voiced by the council in its thorough review of the request was the safety of the proposed arrangement, as well as the overall impact on the neighborhood.

Mayor Michael Neitzke noted that the intent of the street improvements along 41st Street, which involves special assessments to property owners, is to enhance the area, so it is important to ensure the city executes the project to effectively honor the entire neighborhood.

District 3 Alderman Karl Kastner suggested it would be unsafe to install multiple driveway entrances that would provide cross access from the 41st Street and Howard Avenue sides of the building.

Suitable compromise

Neighborhood Services Director Richard Sokol said that although two separate driveway approaches on 41st Street is not ideal from an engineering standpoint, it was part of the resolution reached through discussions with the property owners.

The Common Council ultimately agreed to approve a compromise allowing a driveway approach at the southeastern corner of the property, with a smaller paved area that could be used for parking at the rear of the building, as well as another driveway entrance at the northeast corner, on 41st Street south of Howard Avenue, providing access to parking along the front, or north, side of the building.

Curb and green space would be installed over the portion of now-paved area between the two driveways, so as to prevent cross-access between the parking areas.

The approval was contingent upon the property owner agreeing to remove existing asphalt as required by the project, as well as cover the cost of the second driveway approach on 41st Street at Howard Avenue and any other necessary improvements in public right of way, through an additional special assessment.

The agreement keeps about six off-street parking spaces at the back of the building, where the laundromat entrance is located, as well as seven in the front, off of Howard Avenue.

Pyzyk requested that city staff begin working with the property owners to provide them with a price quote and make arrangements for asphalt removal, to be performed by city contractors.

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