The Ottumwa Courier

February 21, 2014

City Council to discuss two-way streets

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA β€” The Ottumwa City Council will hold a special meeting Monday night at Council Chambers of City Hall to discuss some very important topics.

Included in the very short agenda will be a discussion on the level of signing authority for the City Administrator, review and discussion on a change to the City Code, a proposed amendment to the Ottumwa Comprehensive Plan and discussion on the conversion to two-way streets in downtown Ottumwa.

Probably the most anticipated item is the two-way street conversion. City Administrator Joe Helfenberger said it will probably generate the most discussion during the meeting, based on the reaction of the community at previous meetings about the project.

Due to construction under the Flood Protection Mitigation Project, portions of both Main and Second streets will have to be converted from one-way to two-way streets to accommodate traffic. Since they will have to be temporarily switched, the idea was brought to the City Council to permanently transform Main and Second into two-way streets from Jefferson Street to McPherson Avenue.

The idea was presented to business owners and residents on Jan. 30 in order for city officials to get input and find out what concerns the public had about the switch to two-way.

According to a previous Courier article, those who described the impact two-way streets would have on the downtown area mostly shared how the switch would have a negative influence. Issues like loading and unloading access, parking difficulties and problems when construction vehicles were placed on the road were brought up.

Helfenberger said that based on the public meetings about the two-way conversion, the attitude toward switching really splits down the middle. Community members on one side of the project were supportive of the conversion, while the other side wanted to stick with the one-way streets.

β€œIt was clear at the last informational meeting the businesses east of Kitterman Avenue were in favor of two-way streets, and the businesses west of Kitterman were in favor of one-way,” Helfenberger said.

Since there seems to be such a difference in opinion between business owners and residents on either side of the project, Helfenberger said there will be a staff recommendation to make Kitterman Avenue the cutoff spot for the two-way conversion.

The public is encouraged to attend the special meeting of City Council Monday starting at 5 p.m. to share input on how the items will affect them.

β€” To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh