Damakant Jayshi

A Wausau committee on Thursday approved changing a city ordinance to enforce no parking on a segment of Sherman Street in which longtime parking is creating turmoil and potential safety issues for nearby residents and businesses.

The move, approved 4-1, now goes to the full council for review and impacts an area between Third and Fourth Avenue.

One business owner, from Floral Magic, addressed the Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee Thursday and said long-time parked vehicles on the south side of the street and driveway areas have been an inconvenience. Floral Magic sits on the corner of South Third Avenue and Sherman Street.

Another resident complained about the lack of visibility coming out of an alley on Sherman Street due to the parked vehicles, which have drawn multiple citations from the Wausau Police Department.

The alleged parking violations were brought to the notice of the Public Works Department and the Engineering more than a year ago. According to email correspondence that Wausau Pilot & Review has access to, the DPW, Engineering and Wausau Police Department were discussing how to address the complaint after it was forwarded to them by Dist. 3 Alder Tom Kilian in January last year.

The Feb. 14 email, written by Lt. Garrett Carr, was addressed to Tom Kilian from Dist. 3, which includes the specific segment of Sherman Street discussed.

“If a person chooses to continue to absorb those citations and continue to pay the fines without changing their behavior that is their choice,” the email reads. “The family who resides there is very anti-law enforcement and any efforts to pursued (sic) them by even speaking with them has not and would not succeed unfortunately.” 

Public Works Director Eric Lindman acknowledged that there appear to be parking violations but suggested taking the matter to the CISM Committee since any ‘no parking’ decision would require an ordinance change.

On Thursday, CISM Committee Chair Lou Larson expressed his disappointment that the email, which he termed “valuable information” was not included in the meeting packet. He also objected to the inclusion of generic photo of the parked vehicles from Google map of 2019. This parking violation has been going on for a long time, he added.

City Engineer Allen Wesolowski is mentioned in the meeting packet for this agenda item. Committee chairs approve the meeting packets. Larson also said he expected police record, citations and testimonials to be included in the packet but was missing.

Lt. Jillian Kurtzhals told the committee on Thursday that the police department is aware “this has been an ongoing issue for some time” and their parking specialist visits the area and cites the vehicles frequently.

Kilian, who is not a member of the committee, said residents at neighborhood meetings have complained about the parked vehicles for a long time. He also objected to City Engineer Wesolowski’s comment that parking next to an alley was a common occurrence on city streets and that it is not a safety issue. Kilian asked him to compile the number of complaints on the Sherman Street alley and other alleys in the city and compare them to get a feel of the severity of the problem on the street in his district.

Wesolowski also objected to imposing the ‘no parking’ sign, saying it would leave the individual no option for parking and that the parking would simply be pushed to other streets.

While all the five alders on CISM Committee agreed that the prolonged parking ciations and the nature of parked vehicles, including a camper, violated city ordinance and needed to be addressed, they differed on whether to table the matter until the next meeting.

Alder Lisa Rasmussen said the violations appear to be habitual and moved to impose the parking restrictions. Alder Gary Gisselman said he was not against postponement but added that the matter clearly needed the city’s action. Alder Doug Diny also agreed, but sought to postpone making any decision and wait for more information, including from the police. He voted against the ‘no parking’ imposition.