Falls City Council stands firm on overnight parking ban

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council reviewed the merits of its long-standing ordinance banning overnight parking, during a semimonthly meeting Tuesday, July 21, at the Municipal Building.

The overnight parking policy came up for discussion during a Public Safety Committee meeting, following a recent inquiry from Sheboygan Falls resident Becky Popp.

During her recent appearance before the council, Popp voiced her displeasure with the current citywide overnight parking ban while noting that she would research similar policies regarding overnight parking in surrounding communities.

Although Popp was unable to attend the meeting, Policy Committee Chairman Terry Van Engen put the item up for discussion among council members.

“This ordinance has been in place for years and I personally like it as it is,” Van Engen said. “We have narrow roads in the city and this ordinance helps with potential issues that could come up overnight. It also just looks nicer to have the streets clear of vehicles.”

“If we did develop a new ordinance, we would have to touch on every aspect of changing what has been a standard in the city for years,” he said. “It would certainly be a challenge.”

Alderman Peter Weber agreed with Van Engen’s assessment of the ordinance.

“I like it. It is a good ordinance,” Weber said. “When you have people parking motorhomes or boats on the street for days, it becomes a problem. It basically can turn into seasonal storage space in some cases, which is definitely a concern considering how narrow our roads are.

“It is also very beneficial for the DPW when they are snowplowing,” he said. “Obviously, it is hard to plow the streets properly when you have cars parked on the street continuously.”

When asked how many calls the police department receives in regard to overnight parking violations, Police Chief Steve Riffel said the department typically encounters minimal issues.

“From our point of view, the system works really well,” Riffel said. “We take certain situations into consideration, such as mechanical breakdowns and things of that nature. We do occasionally make exceptions on a case-bycase basis.

“We seem to revisit this issue every few years and the council always seems to come up with the same conclusion,” he said. “I have no issues with the ordinance and I would not recommend looking into changing it, unless of course you [Common Council members] tell me I need to.”

Alderman Al Mayer recommended giving Popp an opportunity to voice her opinion and the findings of her research at a future meeting.

“I am on the fence on this issue, so I am not prepared at this time to comment on it one way or the other,” Mayer said. “However, I do think it is a good idea to give Becky, and a few other people that I have heard want to comment on the issue, an opportunity to talk about this during a meeting.

“Becky apparently got notice of the meeting last Friday, which maybe didn’t provide enough notice for her to clear her schedule to attend the meeting,” he said. “Maybe she has a plan that we could look into and possibly consider, but at the same time I don’t think we want to give false hope that we are looking to make a change, which at this time we are not.”

Van Engen said he would contact Popp and inform her of the council’s present stance on the issue, while offering her the opportunity to raise additional concerns about the ordinance at a future council meeting.

In other Public Safety Committee business, the council approved the purchase of five new phone handsets and systems for the fire department at a cost of $2,800.

“These were not in the original plan for the Municipal Building renovation project, which was an oversight on my part,” Riffel said. “I thought we had them in the plan, but we didn’t and it is something we need to have.”

The council also backed the purchase of a new intercom system for the police and fire departments from Frank’s Radio at a cost of $6,811.30.

“The radio reception for the fire and police departments is bad within the Municipal Building,” Riffel said. “There are times when we need to communicate and we can’t do it very well through our normal radio system.

“The data interface would go into the data room in the police department,” he said. “The system costs $6,811.30, which is a bare-bones system that will do what we need it to do.”

Even though the item was not included on the evening’s council agenda for approval, Mayor Randy Meyer said he was in favor of going ahead with the purchase without formal council approval.

“I am comfortable to proceed with this, even though it is not on the council agenda,” Meyer said. “I would rather not wait until the next meeting in August to do it.

“We are getting close to the end of the punch list items for the Municipal Building project,” he said. “We have about 10 small items that need to be finished up, but we are very close to being completely done with the project.

“When everything is finished, we will look into holding a formal grand opening of the building in the near future,” he said.

During a Property Committee meeting, council members reviewed the billing for grass seeding at the new Westside Park property.

“There have been some issues with the seeding of the grass in the first acre of the park project,” Weber said. “The Park Board has been in charge of the work done at the park so far and they have paid $6,052.50 of the total bill for that work to be performed. Considering the status of the grass seeding right now, they want to hold off on paying the remaining fee of $4,336.50 due to the landscaper [Parm’s Landscape Management of Plymouth] until the grass is fully grown.

“There is not a lot of grass there now, so they want to wait until it does get filled in, which I think is pretty standard practice for these type of projects,” he said.

Meyer indicated that the project has suffered from some miscommunication, noting that a silt fence was removed without city approval.

“There has been some communication issues and things have been done outside of the normal channels of approval,” Meyer said. “We have a very good Park Board that works very hard and has the best intentions in mind for the city.

“But I do believe that these items should come before the council for consideration and not be approved solely by the Park Board,” he said. “I also believe Jerry [Benszchawel] and the DPW should manage projects like this, so the city has a say in what is going on. The silt fence should not have been removed when it was. We were close to the right time, but we weren’t quite there yet when the landscaper took it out.”

Benszchawel indicated that he is prepared to take on more responsibility in overseeing the future development of the project.

“I believe it is correct to hold back on the full payment until the grass is completely filled in,” Benszchawel said. “I already sat down with the landscaper to discuss the next phase of the project, which involves seeding six acres of the park land and constructing another portion of the walking trail. I will provide a full report to the council in August to keep everyone in the loop.”

Under the terms of the payment agreement, the city has until Sept. 30 to pay the remaining $4,336.50 of the bill with the condition that the grass is fully grown.

During the regular council meeting, the council approved the purchase of three zero-turn riding lawn mowers out of the capital improvement fund.

The three mowers were purchased from Country Equipment Service of Plymouth for $26,000, after trade-in and one was sold to Sheboygan Falls Utilities at a price of $2,525, which will go back into the city’s capital improvement fund.

The council approved the hiring of Ernie Matthies to fill the position of interim building assessor to bridge the gap while current Building Inspector-Assessor Ken Sonntag goes through the building assessor license renewal process.

The council approved a travel request for Steve Riffel to attend the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Summer Training Conference in Green Bay at a cost of $500.74.

Operator license applications were approved for Courtney L. Brennan, Kayla L. Bowers, William Thomas Willis, Katlin R. Basler and Arrison J. Smith.

Catalunya LLC was granted a Class B combination liquor/fermented beverage license.

The council also approved an encroachment agreement with Justin B. Daniels, who plans to build a dog kennel etc onInc.his property at 417 State St. for the purpose of training a police dog for the Plymouth Police Department.

The next Sheboygan Falls City Council meeting will take place Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at the Sheboygan Falls Municipal Building.

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