Village leaders attempting to resolve parking issue


MECHANICSBURG – For the second time in three months, the village council on Monday addressed the parking situation on East Sandusky Street after residents, council members and emergency personnel expressed concerns back in May over a lack of visibility when pulling onto East Sandusky Street from the first alley east of Main Street and Locust Street.

During the May 18 council meeting, Mayor Greg Kimball noted the concern stemmed from the Dave Kehl Chevrolet dealership parking its vehicles on the north and south sides of East Sandusky Street, which created visibility problems for drivers pulling onto the street. Following a discussion on the matter, council agreed the best option at the time was to make both sides of East Sandusky Street a no-parking area from the first alley east of Main Street to Locust Street.

On Monday, Village Administrator April Huggins-Davis said the village is trying to work out a compromise with the dealership instead of eliminating parking spots that are also used by the public.

“If we take away that parking all the way down both sides of the street, then anytime there is anything at the Second Baptist Church or anywhere around that area, there is no parking available,” Huggins-Davis said.

Zoning Officer Dusty Hurst added, “During our last Preservation (Champaign County Preservation Alliance) board meeting, this no-parking issue was a big concern. The money we put into it (Second Baptist Church) would pretty much be useless because there would be no parking available for people to utilize it.”

Council member Christian Bradford added that on a daily basis, the dealership has six to 12 vehicles parked on East Sandusky Street, taking away valuable parking spots.

“My point is, we have very limited parking for downtown, and you have all this product that is parked there that isn’t actually people taking up what limited parking we do have,” he said.

In response to why the dealership is parking vehicles on the street, Kimball responded by saying, “He parks them there while someone is coming to pick them up, and I don’t see that as an issue to me. He moves a tremendous amount of product each day.”

Kimball’s explanation didn’t sit well with council member Bill Farley, who said he sees the situation as a safety issue that needs to be addressed.

“If we are afraid to put safety before tax dollars, I’ll always have a problem with that,” he said.

As for a solution, Huggins-Davis said, “We are working on a compromise where we would have a sight distance (area) and still have a few parking spaces on both sides.

“Sandusky Street is crested so high that any approach you make, you are coming at an angle, and you can’t see,” she added.

New cruiser, prescription disposal

Police Chief John Alexander updated council on the status of the department’s two cruisers – a 2015 Ford Explorer and a 2009 Chevrolet Impala.

Alexander said in the past, the department has been putting roughly 50,000 miles a year on its primary cruiser, which has resulted in a need to replace a cruiser every two years. Since receiving the Explorer in 2014, Alexander said, the department has adopted a new cruiser rotation schedule, which has led to the Explorer accumulating just 25,000 miles in its first year.

“We were needing to replace a cruiser every two years, but with the current rotation, we should only need to replace a cruiser every four years now,” he said. “The bad news is the Impala is a 2009, and it’s taken a lot of abuse here recently.

“The transmission is showing signs of maybe going out here in the near future. I think it’s going to become a money hole within the next six months to a year,” Alexander added, suggesting the village consider looking into purchasing another Explorer within the next year or so.

Alexander said he was recently quoted a price for a new Explorer, which would be about the same cost to the village as the Explorer purchased last year.

“The good news about this one is you won’t have to buy any more ‘upfitting’ packages if we stick with the Explorer,” he said. “This one would be $34,000, but then the next one would drop down to about $25,000 because we would no longer have to buy the ‘upfitting’ kits for them.”

No further discussion was held on the matter.

In a separate topic, Alexander informed council a foundry in Lima has agreed to allow the village to dispose of any unwanted prescription drugs at its facility.

“We are going to pour the drugs into molten steel,” he said.

In other business:

•Mechanicsburg Fire & EMS will have all its emergency vehicles on display from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Goshen Memorial Park during the village’s annual Summer Celebration.

Fire Chief Bob Keene said the history and details of each vehicle will be posted to give residents insight as to why the village is seeking voter approval in November on a 5-year, 2.5-mill levy for the replacement of fire and EMS vehicles.

Keene added the MedFlight helicopter will be on display, and Cedar Point tickets will be raffled for free.