A group of neighbors wants the city to find an alternative to a plan adding angled parking on West Alder Street.
Missoula Public Works has proposed removing parking from the north side of West Spruce Street to build bike lanes in both directions on that roadway. To make up for the lost parking, the city planned to add 15 angled spaces to West Alder Street.
But residents of Alder Street opposed the proposal, citing dangers from angled parking and disadvantages to adding parking spots in the residential neighborhood.
Senior Planner Ben Weiss said the city could consider keeping parallel parking instead of converting the existing spaces to angled parking, although that plan would result in an overall reduction of nine spaces on Alder.
Ultimately, city staff agreed to work with Ward 1 City Council representatives to come up with a compromise plan.
“I’m thrilled to hear the conversation will continue between the two of you,” said resident Jessica Vizzutti to city staff and Ward 1 Council Member Jennifer Savage.
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Vizzutti spoke out about the dangers of angled parking during the virtual meeting Wednesday.
“I would just ask for more time and more compromise in a new plan,” she urged.
Fellow resident Jesse Lawler doubled down on the disadvantages that would emerge from angled parking.
“Putting the angled parking would fundamentally alter the character of this old street, wide street in Missoula and really change the entire feel of the neighborhood,” Lawler said.
“We just don’t want a parking lot in front of our house,” said neighbor Luke Boehnke. “We are sympathetic with the city’s goals but we were hoping that there might be some kind of other strategy or creative solution that can deal with some of the parking storage issues that take into account all the stakeholders, because right now we’re feeling very much like we’re just getting rolled over.”
Members of the city council seemed receptive to the residents’ concerns Wednesday.
“As the Ward 1 representative, if it’s possible I would like to ask city staff to look at a compromised project,” Savage said.
“I think compromise would be good,” agreed Ward 3 Council Member Daniel Carlino.
“There’s definitely room for more conversation around this,” said Ward 2 Councilor Mirtha Becerra.
Despite the agreement to seek a compromise, city staff warned the meeting attendees of the pressures facing the project.
“The reality is there’s still a big need for parking in downtown and we have to continue to balance that out,” said Public Works Director Jeremy Keene.
“We also know that every time we do a striping project where we add bike lanes and remove parking, there’s some amount of heartburn at least in the short term about that parking removal and so we feel like this was kind of our best foot forward, ” added Weiss.
The proposed changes would likely go into place in late August or early September, according to Weiss.