Westby City Council backed away from a plan to convert the 100 block of East State Street into one-way driving and parking after the proposed change was met with even more resistance at its October monthly meetings.
The entire issue came to light after Vernon Communications purchased the Corner Mechanics business lot in downtown Westby, in order to create a public downtown green space. Since then, Westby Chamber has since been put in charge of developing the area, which in turn opened the door for the city of Westby to restructure parking in front of the area.
In September the city street committee, (Rick Rognstad, Russell Haakenson, Lyle Lund), voted 2-1 in favor of the one-way street conversion. Lund provided the nay vote and told the council that the people he spoke with were not in favor of the change and he personally felt it would make driving in downtown more confusing.
At the same time Mayor Dan Helgerson argued the change would create less congestion all around at the State Street intersection and help with traffic flow. The city contacted businesses and residents residing on East State Street in regards to the proposed change.
In October the public weighed in with several residents residing on East State Street against the one-way proposal.
Bob Devine, who rents out agricultural land on East State Street raised concerns about larger farm equipment having to take less direct routes.
Jackie Pertzborn has horses and pulls a large 24 foot trailer. She said she has never avoided the intersection and the change would not make driving in the area user friendly. Pertzborn said the city would be cutting off its nose, to spite their face, doing more harm than good in the long run.
Louise Simonson said converting one block to a one-way would be way too confusing for motorists.
Former Councilman Arnie Anderson doesn’t reside on East State Street, but was always a strong proponent for a stop light at the State Street intersection. His battles always came up short when dealing with the DOT, but he suggested the current council restart communications with the DOT before making a change to one-way parking on just one side of the street and not the other.
Anderson said it’s like a Norwegian gunfight at the State street intersection with motorists waiting to turn left wondering which one is going to pull the trigger first and pull out onto Main Street from that intersection.
Jeff Bailey, who has lived on both sides of State Street in Westby, said the intersection is not the safest, but he prefers to make it his own choice whether to take an alternate route or take his chances pulling out from East or West State streets onto Main.
Mayor Helgerson then suggested trying the proposed change for one year, but the council backed away from the idea with no support from the people in attendance.
Bailey said it’s just too hard to convert back once a change like this is made and leaving well enough alone seemed like the safest option.
Westby City Council meets at 6 p.m. on Nov. 7 and on Nov. 21. You may also contact Westby City Hall at 634-3214 for additional information.