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City approves parking ordinance updates

The Hudson Common Council approved updates to the city's parking ordinance that reflect its efforts to address parking concerns downtown.

Nick Colianni of the city's parking work group presented recommendations from the group based on the parking study completed by Rich and Associates in 2018.

In October the city approved replacing meters with pay stations. Those stations are just one piece of addressing parking in the city.

Parking rates will be kept at 50 cents an hour, calculated in one-hour increments.

"We feel that 50 cents an hour is a good rate for us to start with until we can get some data in and we can really review that data and the usage of the system to make further recommendations if necessary," Colianni said.

Permits will be $100 annually for employees of downtown businesses, and $200 annually for others. They will also be available as a monthly permit for $10 for employees and $20 for others.

All streets will have a 3-hour time limit. Colianni said the group felt this was enough time for people to come downtown and enjoy a meal or visit shops.

The beach house, Williams and North parking lots will have 8-hour parking. The boat landing can be used in the off-season to accommodate more 8-hour parking, Colianni said.

Enforcement will be extended an hour and shifted, with a schedule from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays that will now be enforced.

The group did not recommend changes to free holiday parking, free parking on Sundays or the parking ticket cost that starts at $7.

All of the recommendations are based on a 6-month review period, Colianni said. The group will continue to discuss what is and isn't working.

Changes will begin May 2019. A grace period will be in effect initially with warnings issued instead of citations.

Council Member Paul Deziel said the $7 violation fee seemed low, and an adjustment would provide more incentive to follow the rules.

Colianni said the group is hoping to use the new system to collect data to have a better idea where things stand. They don't want to penalize anybody or create a perception of gouging with violation charges.

Council Member Randy Morrissette II said the changes are a lot to throw at people at once, and maintaining the violation cost allows the changes to be rolled out gently.

Council Member Jim Webber said he was concerned that the bath house parking lot was now paid and permit parking.

"I think that's really wrong," Webber said.

The area is the city's gem, Webber said, and now people will have to pay to park in that area.

Colianni said they're trying to keep the space in front of stores open, by giving people other spots to park in. He said the group can look at the data, and revisit the issue if needed.

Morrissette asked for support for six months to get information on how it works.

Webber said his preference would be to not have it paid for six months, and review that data to make changes if needed.

Chamber of Commerce President Mary Claire Olson Potter said Sundays will not be metered and enforcement won't begin until 10 a.m., so those enjoying the parks at that time will not have to pay to park.

Mayor Rich O'Connor said when spaces aren't metered, people park for extended hours resulting in low turnover.

"They're thinking that the turnover in these spots is going to help mitigate our overall parking issue, parking problem," O'Connor said. "To the extent that we may not even need to be considering other options for ramps or things like that."

The council approved the updates 5-1, with Webber voting no.

Library report

The Hudson Area Public Library saw a circulation increase of more than 4 percent last year, during a time when library circulation nationwide is dwindling.

The Hudson Common Council heard the 2019 annual report from Library Director Tina Norris during Monday night's meeting.

Circulation of physical material increased by 1.6 percent from 2018 to 2019, while digital circulation increased by 21 percent, Norris said.

Norris said this increase is due to more people utilizing the library. The library has been more user-centric in deciding what books to order.

"We're finding out what people want and that's what we're ordering," she said.

The Hudson Area Public Library saw 126,955 people visit in 2018.

The total expenditure for 2018 was more than $21,000, with 88 percent of that funded by grants.

For 2019 the Hudson Area Library Foundation has committed $37,200 of funding to the library.

The Friends of the Library gave $9,765 to help in the revitalization of the children's area, and is providing $14,100 in grant funding for 2019.

The library completed its strategic plan in 2018, and has developed a new plan that was implemented starting Jan. 1.

This strategic plan focuses on promoting education achievement, literacy and lifelong learning; supporting workforce and economic development; creating innovative library spaces and dynamic collections, resources and technology; fostering community engagement; strengthening and improving organization health; and defining roles of library board and support organizations.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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