By Bob Balgemann


BELVIDERE – After many months of discussions, city council has approved a change in parking along Menomonie Street, from Main to Webster.

However, the vote wasn’t unanimous. Council voted 6-4 on Monday, June 6 to approve two-way traffic with angle parking on one side of the street and parallel parking on the other. The new setup will generate 21 parking spaces.

Aldermen Ron Brooks and George Crawford, in whose ward the street is located, voted against the motion.

Council was of a more united front when it came to asking Boone County to split the maximum $11,609 cost.

Menomonie Street is behind the public safety building, which houses both the city police department and sheriff’s office, along with the emergency 9-1-1 dispatch center. The city and county typically split costs of operating that building.

The city’s budget and finance director, Becky Tobin, agreed to ask county officials if they would willingly split the cost of the parking improvements. She joined the city several years ago, coming over from the county where she was the assistant administrator.

City officials were not hopeful that the county would agree to halving the cost.

Alderman Dan Snow, who co-chairs the city-county coordinating committee, said the county’s financial situation currently was in “dire straits.” That committee consists of five aldermen and five county board members, and deals with issues affecting both governmental bodies.

It originally was thought the council could pass a motion telling the county to share the cost. However, City Attorney Mike Drella said the city “can’t direct the county to do anything.”

Plus, Public Works Director Brent Anderson pointed out all of the area involved was in the city’s right of way.

“The reality is this is our cost,” Mayor Mike Chamberlain said. Still, it was he who suggested the county be asked to share in the expense.

Under questioning from Alderman Brooks, Tobin said the city not long ago joined the county in splitting a $190,000 improvement to the public safety building parking lot.

That project went through the city-county legislative process, including the aforementioned committee, city council, and county board, and took about one year to be approved, the mayor said.

Alderman Mark Sanderson asked if any sheriff’s deputies would be parking along that stretch of Menomonie Street.

Police Chief Jan Noble replied it would be “extremely rare” for that to happen.

Brooks initially authored an amendment to the proposed changes to Menomonie. The amendment would have prohibited parking on Menomonie between Main and Webster. But it failed, 6-4.

The project that council ultimately approved will be done by the city’s public works department.

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