Parking Decided for Highway 42 Project in Egg Harbor
Business owners on the west side of Highway 42 lost the battle to retain a couple of on-street parking spots when the Egg Harbor Village Board made a decision last week.
At issue were two parking scenarios: four spaces in the core on the west side of the street in front of Greens N Grains (option 2), or moving two of those four spaces to the east side of the highway (option 1).
Though the difference was only two parking spaces, the decision has been drawn out. That’s because in March, the village board approved option 2, but then trustee Lisa Van Laanen, chair of the Parks and Public Works Board, asked for and received permission for her committee to reconsider the options to make a recommendation to the board.
That committee chose option 1. Loss of the terrace on the east side if they chose option 2 – because of how the centerline of the road would need to be shifted – was among the primary reasons and Van Laanen’s biggest concerns.
Village trustee Cambria Mueller characterized it as a “no-win situation,” saying, “If we do option 1, we’re horrible people because we killed a business,” Mueller said. “If we go with option 2, someone gets hit. I would hope whatever option we go with that we could work with Greens N Grains and Plum Bottom [Gallery] to come up with solutions.”
Kathy Navis, owner of Greens N Grains and Spa Verde, has repeatedly tried to convince village officials of the importance of the parking spots currently in front of her business. Retaining on-street parking also scored highly back in January when the village received more than 100 letters of feedback on the new highway design, a majority of those asking the village for on-street parking in that core area.
The village listened to that feedback, and, at first, where there were no on-street parking spaces included in the design, asked the engineer to add 11 back in, six of those in the core area.
“I don’t know how to emphasize the importance” of those two spaces, Navis told the trustees May 16 – not for tourists, she said, but for her grocery store customers September through June. Particularly in winter, she said it was important to have close parking for customers who are walking with grocery bags on icy sidewalks.
There was “minimal” difference in cost between the two options, according to Megan Sawyer, village administrator. For village board president John Heller, there was minimal difference between the two options; there was no difference in safety – that was the official opinion of their engineer, Mike Simon with McMahon Associates; and the businesses said they needed the parking. That, too, was the opinion of trustee Angela Lensch, who cast the dissenting vote with Heller in the 3-2 decision.
The other three thought it was a “crummy corner,” as Mueller called it, with too much congestion as people crossed the street, parked, got in and out of vehicles, and passed on the left from the new turn lane that would be designed.
“My reason is to take the congestion out of parking [in] that area,” Mueller said. “I get the DOT [Wisconsin Department of Transportation] says it’s safe regardless [of option 1 or 2], but have they driven consistently in our village? They have not. We all have. And that is my opinion of having to drive in our downtown area.”
Trustee Ken Mathys agreed that there was “too much going on” at that corner to add parking. He said they had exhausted all aspects of the two options and had done “all we can to create parking for business,” even to the point of eliminating some of the intended trees to allow for the parking spots.
What some saw as too congested and dangerous, Lensch saw as increasing safety because the activity “would slow down traffic.” She also lobbied heavily for the businesses on the west side.
“Those parking spots are supplying a year-round business,” Lensch argued. “And in the winter especially, we’re going to want those parking spots there.”
But it was not to be. A motion for option 2 failed on a 3-2 vote before option 1 passed, 3-2.
No Decision on Building Purchase
The parking-option decision was supposed to have been made May 10, but the board tabled the issue until the May 16 meeting, saying a new opportunity could affect the parking decision: the owners of Door County Massage, at 7818 Hwy 42, just south of the Main Street Shops on the east side of the village, had indicated interest in selling the building to the village. The building was previously the home of Double Delites.
The village had long considered the site as a potential spot for public restrooms and downtown parking, but the village did not achieve ownership of the building, so that plan never came to fruition.
The board went into closed session to discuss the offer May 16 but did not make decisions pertaining to that deal when it reconvened, resulting in no new public information to consider when the parking issue was decided.