Time restraints during a recent city meeting may have saved the downtown bollards from the chopping block, while the measure to eliminate parking spaces on Court Square was tabled.
“I wanted to discuss the bollards, but I don’t think we will have time to do that,” said Safety Committee chairman Jimmy Bonner. “I guess it will have to wait.”
One issue officials did have time to consider was eliminating the parking spaces beside the fountain in front of Depot Street.
“I have noticed when you come up Depot Street and take a right on Court Square it is a very sharp turn when vehicles are parked beside the fountain,” said Bonner.
A difficult time for regular-sized vehicles is almost impossible for trucks pulling trailers, says Bonner.
“If you bring a trailer up there, and I know people who have brought trailers up there, you have to make a wide swing because of the bollards and the planters. If cars are sitting there, someone is going to run over something.”
Bonner suggested the city place signs to prevent parking from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Vice Mayor Ben Newman is against taking away parking spaces.
“I park on the square a lot and there are not enough spaces as it is,” said Newman. “I think if you take away spaces, or limit their use, you are taking away something that’s needed.”
City attorney Tim Pirtle has an office near that corner and says he has seen motorists having difficulty making the turn.
“I have seen at least two instances in the past year where people tried to negotiate the turn from Depot Street onto South Court Square,” Pirtle said. “One of them was a four-horse trailer being pulled by a dually. The trailer, literally, ended up on top of those two bells and had to be extracted with a wrecker or two. It’s not an uncommon occurrence.”
A Truck Ordinance was passed by officials in November 2005 to keep large trucks away from Main Street. The ordinance restricts the use of downtown streets by vehicles or trailers possessing two or more rear axles and/ or weighing in excess of 10,000 pounds empty weight.
McMinnville Public Works director Bill Brock says the city should steer away from eliminating parking spaces and focus on ordinance compliance.
“At the foot of that hill, a sign says no trucks,” said Brock. “I know of one who got hung up that had no use being in that particular area. If you eliminate those parking spaces to give them access, you have a tighter turn right ahead of that. You may has well eliminate everything by The Lot.”
Main Street was not designed for large trucks and the bollards were placed to keep motorists off the decorative sidewalks and away from the decorative poles, says Brock.
“Get ready if you start allowing trucks up through there. They will start hitting everything in sight,” said Brock. “Downtown is pretty. The bollards are there to keep vehicles off the sidewalk. That’s what they were designed for. We would have lost a $5,000 light pole over the years if not for those bollards. I discourage you from encouraging large trucks downtown.”
A motion by Alderman Rick Barnes to table the issue was accepted by Bonner and Alderman Mike Neal.