Blaine council approves parking restriction by Happy Acres Park

This late spring and summer, users of Happy Acres Park, Blaine, who have parked on 121st Avenue north of the park will notice a new parking restriction.

The Blaine City Council Dec. 6 approved a no parking restriction on the north side of 121st Avenue during the Little League baseball season.

The Blaine City Council Dec. 6 approved a no parking restriction on the north side of 121st Avenue during the Little League baseball season.

The street signs will inform drivers that they cannot park on the north side of 121st Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets between May 1 and July 31 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Parking will be allowed on both sides of the street on legal holidays, so this covers Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

The Blaine City Council on a 5-1 vote Dec. 6 approved this new parking restriction. Councilmember Wes Hovland was absent.

Councilmember Kathy Kolb voted no. “We were clear when we approved that (residential) building area there that it was going to be adjacent to a park,” Kolb said.

Ten residents submitted a petition to the city early last summer asking for this parking restriction, although they had asked it be extended until Aug. 31. The petition, which the council saw at its June 7, 2012 meeting, said parents of Little League players using Happy Acres Park were parking on both sides of the street.

On the other hand, resident Kim Therres came before the council June 7 to say that two to five vehicles consistently park on 121st Avenue in this area and mostly on the north side.

“121st does not have a parking or a safety problem and implementing parking restrictions are not warranted,” she said at the June 7 council meeting.

The council at that time tabled action so there could be a neighborhood meeting, which took place Aug. 20.

According to City Engineer Jean Keely, 65 homes were notified of this neighborhood meeting and nine residents attended.

Keely said residents at the meeting stated concerns of reduced visibility with cars parked on both sides of the street, especially with there being a curve in the street.

While Kolb said at the Dec. 6 meeting that “it would be opening up a can of worms” to approve these parking restrictions, other members of the council were supportive of the proposal.

Councilmember Russ Herbst said he is at Happy Acres Park a lot for his grand kids’ games and a lot of times there is adequate parking in the parking lot, but people like parking along 121st Avenue because it is closer to the fields.

“It’ll be good if we can get most people to use the parking lot,” Herbst said.

Parks and Recreation Director Jim Kappelhoff said at the Sept. 25 park board meeting that the Happy Acres Park parking lot has the capacity for 65 vehicles. When all three ball fields are being used for games, Kappelhoff said it was estimated that 85 to 90 spots are needed.

However, he said an open area next to the park building and hockey rink No. 1 could be used for overflow parking for approximately 60 vehicles. This is the area where the general skating rink is located during the winter. Kappelhoff said the soil is sandy in this area, so people would not get stuck if it rains.

The park board recommended designating this area as overflow parking, but not making any changes to parking on 121st Avenue.

Kappelhoff said the youth baseball season runs from the first full week of May to the third week in July with games starting at 6 p.m. and lasting two hours. Overflow street parking is also allowed on 7th Avenue to the east of the park, 118th Avenue to the south and the 3rd Street cul-de-sac to the west, he said.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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