By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
A plan to restrict street parking around Legion Field to increase safety during ballgames was unanimously approved by the Havre City Council Monday night.
Havre park and recreation director Dave Wilson proposed to the Streets and Sidewalks Committee that the city designate the grass field north of the ballpark as a parking lot to alleviate parking congestion along Ninth Street and 11th Avenue during games. Parking will be prohibited on the west side of 11th Avenue along Robert Patterson Memorial Park and the water tower, as well as on both sides of Ninth Street, Wilson said.
"I think it'd create some safer conditions on 11th and it might alleviate parking conditions at Patterson Park," Wilson told the committee. He said that during games, cars parked on both sides of the two streets narrow the streets to a single lane, making it difficult to see pedestrians and limiting visibility at the intersection of Ninth Street and 11th Avenue.
Wilson said he believes there would be more parking gained with the new lot than lost, and estimated that 30 or more spaces would be created with the new lot.
"I think that we're probably adding more than we're taking away," he said.
The field, which is part of Legion Park, was slated to eventually be groomed as a normal park area, and sprinklers were to be installed, Wilson said this morning. He added that he thought his proposal is a reasonable approach in light of the parking situation and the installation of the skateboard park nearby. He said the lot will take up less than a third of the field.
The four-member committee unanimously approved the proposal.
"I agree with you," committee chair Doug Larson told Wilson before the vote. "I feel it is a hazard up there the way they're parking now."
Havre public works director Dave Peterson also supported the proposal at the meeting.
Later in the evening the City Council unanimously approved the proposal.
Wilson said that as long as the ground is dry, people would be able to park on the grass as it is, but that eventually he would lay down gravel.
He said the lot can be used for parking as soon as temporary fencing is put up along the trees in the lot and along the east side of the lot. Fencing is needed to protect tree trunks and to prevent entrance to the lot from 12th Avenue, he said. The gate will also be locked when games are not being played to prevent loitering, he said.
Wilson said he hoped to put up fencing in the next two weeks.
Eventually a more permanent cable fence will be installed around the parking lot. Signs will also be put up to restrict parking, he said.
"If you had signage on it, the police could do some patrolling," said committee member Gary Schubert.
Cars may also be prohibited from parking next to the outfield fence because of the risk of auto damage from balls hit out of the park.
As part of the plan, the water pump station in the field would be fenced off and the gate leading into the lot would be widened.