Emergency responders ran into one their worst nightmares Sunday after receiving a fire call they nearly could not reach on Elm St. Because of parking for Sunday services at Marion Christian Church and Marion Presbyterian Church, the street was extremely congested with people parking on both sides of the street.
Police Chief Tyler Mermis witnessed the situation as he left church.
“Luckily they did get through,” he said. “But there was maybe 2 to 3 inches of clearance on both sides of the fire truck. If the driver would have had to swerve to miss someone opening their door he would have plowed into a parked car.”
To allow responders access to the area in case of an emergency, city council approved an ordinance to prohibit parking along the west side Elm and Locust Sts., between Main and Denver Sts.
Signs will be placed along the zone this week. Anyone caught illegally parking along the street will be fined $80.
“I’ve talked to both churches and they support the change,” Mermis said.
An attempt to contact someone from Zeiner funeral by the city was unsuccessful.
Parking will be allowed on both sides of Lawrence St.
“The fire chief said as long as he could get trucks up and down the hill he could get to any cross street without much difficulty,” Mermis said. “People might find it difficult to find a parking spot, they might be unhappy, but at least they’ll be safe.”
Fire trucks were not the only city vehicles having trouble last week. The city was put between a rock and a hard place after the backup garbage truck blew a cylinder.
The estimate from Williams Service of Florence to replace the cylinder is around $4,000.
City administrator Roger Holter recommended to council to consider a whole engine rebuild for $10,800 to keep other cylinders from going out in the near future. The repairs would take the truck out of commission for several weeks, Holter said.
The 1997 truck is three years from its expected life cycle with the city. It was originally bought used.
“Right now the truck values between $25,000 and $30,000,” Holter said. “It will be better for the resale value if we can show we’ve had the engine re worked.”
Council member Jerry Kline said he didn’t believe an engine overhaul would raise the resale value.
“I don’t think it will help at all because it’s old,” he said.
The truck is only used once or twice a month when the primary trash truck is pulled out of service for standard maintenance. Holter also hopes to use the truck for a recycling program.
“The primary trash truck gets more regular maintenance and has to be taken out of commission more because it is used so regularly,” Holter said. “We have to repair the cylinder or we’re dead in the water.”
“If something happens to the other truck, then we could be setting ourselves up for some real problems,” council member Todd Heitschmidt said.
The council eventually voted four to one, with Kline voting against, to have the engine rebuilt in an effort to keep the vehicles resale value higher.
Council also moved to widen the utility easement for the duplex project off Eisenhower.
The easement will be increased from 10 feet to 15 feet.
Holter estimates dirt work for the cul de sac called Victory Plaza will begin within seven to 10 days. Contractors were delayed after running into a problem with the original plans that put the cul de sac protruding 33 feet into the cemetery.
“The architects that created the plans did not take into account that the center of Eisenhower St. was the starting point,” Darin Neufeld of EBH Engineering said. “The plans were being used up until six weeks ago when we noticed the error. To compensate, none of the facilities have changed but a few extra feet in a few lots that did not exist has been removed.”
Parking spaces in the project were also adjusted to fix the error, Holter said.
In other business
- The council approved the appointment of Sheila Makovec as city clerk.
- Marge Summervill was appointed to the Cemetery Board replacing Rosse Case.
- All properties are hooked up to the Jex Addition sewer except two who had previously run on their own sewer system. They will be added at a later date, Neufeld said. Middle Creek will return in April to seed the area and tie up loose ends.
- Council approved a resolution supporting a downtown streetscaping grant being applied for by Pride.