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Council reverses course on Fourth Street parking restriction

Teachers and other employees at Willow River Elementary School will be able to continue to park on Fourth Street in front of the school after all.

In September, the Hudson City Council established three zones where parking on the street is limited to adjacent homeowners during certain times of the day and year in response to complaints from homeowners about traffic congestion and a lack of places for themselves and their guests to park.

One of the zones was a two-block area of Fourth Street from St. Croix to Myrtle streets, in front of Willow River Elementary.

Adoption of the parking-by-permit zone in front of the school brought protests from teachers and school employees who said it was an unnecessary inconvenience for them and created as many problems as it solved.

Monday night, a group of school employees was able to convince the City Council to see things its way.

The council voted 4-0 to remove Zone C, the two blocks of Fourth Street, from the ordinance establishing the parking-by-permit zones. Voting in favor of the action were Alderpersons Dennis O'Connell, Paul Radermacher, Carah Koch and Roger Riedel.

District 5 Alderman Scot O'Malley reclused himself from the voting, saying some people thought he had an interest in the issue because his residence on Third Street is in the neighborhood. Alderman Michael Laatsch was absent.

O'Malley, who had pressed for the addition of the Fourth Street parking-by-permit zone when the ordinance was first considered, made the motion to reconsider it citing the protests it had sparked.

Robert Benoy, transportation director for the School District of Hudson, was the first of a handful of district employees to argue for the removal of the parking restriction.

Benoy said forcing the school staff to park in the Hudson Municipal Building lot at 911 Fourth St. would put a strain on teachers who often carry bags and boxes of materials into and out of the school.

He said the school has been there for 85 years, and parking on the west side of Fourth Street has never been restricted.

Not allowing the school staff to park on the street would require the district to consider making a parking lot on its limited play area at the end of Oak Street, he said. He said it also would simply lead staff members to park on other neighborhood streets, where they might also be unwelcome.

Willow River Principal Pat Hodges, teacher Deb Schutts and kitchen worker Lynn Cincotta also spoke out against the parking restriction. Cincotta said she arrives for work at 10 a.m. and never has trouble finding a parking place nearby on Fourth Street.

Sandy Eddy, who lives across from the school on Fourth Street, asked the council to let the parking restriction stand. She said there are 52 parking places in the Municipal Building lot, and most of the time only 15 are being used on average. She said the lot is only a block and two and a half minutes walking time away from the school.

Alderman Dennis O'Connell noted that the Municipal Building lot serves the Hudson Area Joint Library and Bethel Lutheran Church, each of which paid for its construction.

"They are not going to want that lot filled up with teachers' cars," he said of the library staff.

The council also adopted what City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick described as "housekeeping" changes to the residential parking permit ordinance. They included issuing the homeowner parking permits for an indefinite term, which would end if the homeowner moved out of the district.

The two remaining parking-by-permit zones are the neighborhoods around Hudson High School and Front Street south of the I-94 bridge.

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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