Business and property owners on South Main Street are seeking a better way for large trucks to deliver goods.
That’s why they’ve asked the village to consider creating a north-to-south corridor through the Jefferson Street parking lot.
After a long discussion on the matter Monday, Oregon Village Board members agreed to have an engineer and the city’s public works director “continue the discussion” with the various parties to figure out the best course of action.
The current setup, as one building owner put it, is “a nightmare” for truck drivers, and is likely to result in trucks blocking the only driveway access to the Jefferson Street parking lot. What they’d prefer is an aisle where trucks would enter the parking lot from Jefferson Street and leave the lot heading south, past the back of Ziggy’s restaurant and then out to South Main Street.
Public works director Jeff Rau had already asked Quam Engineering to look into whether a large truck and trailer could get through such a lane, and over the summer the firm prepared a layout and preliminary estimate of the costs involved.
Quam’s project estimate came to more than $50,000.
The village has struggled to find solutions to a raft of problems with the parking lot, going back at least five years.
It’s in the process of burying utility lines and reconstructing the lot in conjunction with the Jefferson Crossing apartment redevelopment. In 2013, the village established a loading zone directly behind the back of South Main Street businesses so people don’t park cars there and block delivery access.
In a memo, Rau expressed skepticism Quam’s plan would work. He noted the path through the parking lot “is twisting and I don’t believe will fit well with traffic patterns.”
He also wrote that the plan would probably require moving a utility pole, a transformer and metering cabinet to an alley near Peaceful Heart Gifts and Books. That could require purchasing land from Peaceful Heart, getting an easement and the likely loss of parking stalls.
“I don’t think this is a good plan for anybody,” he wrote.
After hearing from Rau, Trustee Jerry Bollig asked a group of Main Street business and property owners for their opinions.
They suggested the village move the driveway leading into the lot closer to the backs of the South Main Street businesses and establish a north-to-south drive aisle that would lead trucks past the back of Ziggy’s and out to South Main Street.
Dan Donoghue, owner of The Chocolate Caper, and John Deits, owner of Peaceful Heart, along with property owners Scott MacWilliams and Jerry Thiel, all said they would prefer that approach.
Currently, those vehicles enter at Jefferson Street and then loop counter-clockwise around the parking lot and exit at the same driveway they used to enter. Some of the business owners said under the current configuration, drivers who aren’t familiar with the lot would be likely to drive in, veer east, close to the buildings and park there to unload, blocking the driveway.
“Everyone has two concerns – parking and that trucks can get in and out,” Donoghue said. “Having two entrances can help keep a large truck from blocking the entrance.”
MacWilliams agreed. “With one entry in and one entry out, you’ve got a bottleneck,” he said. “I can’t see how a truck is going to get in and get out without blocking traffic and doing a bunch of unsafe maneuvers.”
He said he’d like to see a long-term fix.
Thiel said truck drivers think the present arrangement is “a nightmare.”
“With the potential for another 60 to 90 cars (when Jefferson Crossing is done next year), it’s going to be chaotic,” he warned. “We need a one-way through there.”
Trustee Jeff Boudreau said he’d like to have an engineer study whether the business owners idea would work.
Rau responded that Quam estimated at $12,000 cost to do such a study. It charged the village about $4,000 for the work it’s already done, he said.
Deits suggested that before spending any more money, village officials should meet with the property and business owners and “continue the discussion.”
After seeing a nod of heads, Rau said he would try to arrange the meeting within the next two weeks and would ask an engineer from Quam to participate.