Effingham nixes Jefferson Ave. parking plan

Workers pour concrete on Jefferson Ave. near the intersection of Jefferson and Fifth St. Friday afternoon as a part of the recent city reconstruction project. City council this week nixed an angled parking plan along Jefferson Ave. on the south side of the Effingham County Museum lawn. Kaitlin Cordes photo

The Effingham City Council recently nixed a plan for angled parking on the south side of the Effingham County Museum lawn along Jefferson Avenue.
 Public Works Director Jeremy Heuerman said with the timeframe available with the road construction nearing the area, and the estimated cost of gaining parking spots, it is not financially feasible.

“Basically, giving every entity involved there what they’ve requested, we will only be gaining three or four spots overall – and it will still cost the city almost $100,000,” said Heuerman. “It is cost prohibitive to move forward.”

The decision comes just less than a month after the Effingham County Board approved a parking plan presented by board chairman Jim Niemann. Niemann had brought the plan to the Building and Grounds Committee in early July.

The plan was a modified version of one presented by the city's previous mayoral administration in January, which would have added eight parking spaces on the south side of the Effingham County Museum square, taking 7 feet of county right of way in the process.

The committee rejected the original plan when it was first presented over concerns of disrupting the county's property and the possible effect on the veterans and emergency personnel memorials located on the intersections of Jefferson and Fourth and Jefferson and Third, respectively.

Niemann's updated plan included brick pavers sold by the museum and the veterans memorial to profit both organizations. Niemann said city officials requested a 3-foot-wide curb, 5-foot-wide sidewalk and 2 feet for the pavers.

At July's Building and Grounds Committee meeting, Niemann informed the committee that the veterans memorial group were no longer interested in the project as a whole. The plan moved to the full board on the premise that the veterans memorial would be left alone, a notion Niemann said the city agreed to.

Niemann said at July's board meeting that at that time, the city was still figuring out the cost ratios for the county and city regarding the plan.

Niemann said Friday that the board did its best to accommodate the entities that would be affected but is OK with the city's recent decision to ax the angled parking altogether.

"The city approached the county with the idea of installing angled parking. Our response was to attempt to accommodate their request as best we could and still meet the concerns of the memorials on the corners and the museum," Niemann said. "We were comfortable either way the city decided to go once we agreed."

Niemann said the county will continue to improve lighting around the museum to make it more inviting to pedestrians at night and provide better access to parking in the museum lot and on Washington Avenue.

The city has decided to instead repave the existing parallel parking on Jefferson Ave., Heuerman said. City Administrator Steve Miller said Heuerman and many individuals have worked on this for a long time and gave it a good effort.

Mayor Mike Schutzbach said at the council meeting that while the plan for angled parking did not pan out, he is still pleased to see work being done on Jefferson Ave.

"We didn't succeed on this one, but we'll at least have our beautiful road, and there is parking in the area," Schutzbach said.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 138.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132

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