Joshua Morrison/News Rebar has been placed in Spice Alley as crews wait out the rain to pour concrete.

MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon City officials are meeting with businesses to craft a parking plan for downtown.

City Safety Services Director Rick Dzik said Friday the city, Main Street Mount Vernon, businesses and other parties with a stake in parking downtown are in discussions about a permanent parking plan. Dzik noted that there have been spot changes in parking throughout the city on and off for the last several years.

Mayor Matt Starr further said the changes are needed as the nature of downtown businesses change.

“There is less retail and more entertainment-based,” Starr said. “Our needs are a little bit different.”

For instance, two-hour parking is suitable for retail, but longer times are needed when visiting salons or taking craft-based classes, as well as taking in a show or having an evening in town. On the other hand, 24-hour parking could fill spaces that are needed during the day.

Starr said designated pick-up parking spaces are also part of the discussion.

Dzik has taken action on a complaint by a local salon to shorten parking time from 24-hour to two hours on West Vine Street between Mulberry and Mechanic streets. The salon owner previously approached the city council, stating that there are too few spaces available during the day for customers.

Dzik, as safety services director, has the authority to temporarily make the change for 90 days. It will be up to city council to make the change permanent.

Parks and buildings and grounds

The parks department began filling the Hiawatha pool this week, prompting calls as well as comments on social media asking whether the water park is reopening.

The pool being filled is to run the equipment for a few weeks to ensure things are working right, as well as run the machinery rather than letting it sit idle until next year, according to Dave Carpenter, parks and buildings and grounds superintendent.

The water park is still closed for the 2020 season, Dzik said.

Engineer

The Eastmoor Drive water line project is scheduled to go out for bid June 11, City Engineer Brian Ball said. The estimated $804,000 project will connect three dead-end water lines on Eastmoor, Upland Terrace and Dogwood Terrace, then run to the line that serves Country Court nursing home. Country Court’s line is also a dead-end line; by looping it in with the lines from the three residential streets, it can be served from both Coshocton Avenue and the area of Eastmoor.

The Eastmoor line will be completely replaced. Ball said the line has had 14 breaks since the 1990s.

Construction on Mount Vernon Avenue bridge will close Lower Gambier Road and Cougar Drive for 25 days beginning June 1. One lane of the bridge will remain open.

Utilities

A majority of water accounts are now being read remotely as the MXU radio-read water meter system comes online. Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf reported that approximately 5,000 accounts are being read by the system, which means customers will be billed using an actual read monthly. Previously, those customers were billed based on a three-month cycle of one actual read followed by two estimates.

There are still several meters that have not been converted to MXUs. These are mostly located inside of residences and commercial buildings, and the utilities department will work with the property owners on when they can get inside to replace them.

Mayor

The city and the Ariel-Foundation Park Conservancy continue to look at a smaller-scale July 4 event for this year, Starr said. The annual July 4 fireworks and celebration at the park have been canceled for this year.

Starr said the summer activities program could be expanded soon to include the arts and other outdoor activities. Groups involved in the arts, as well as those that can offer outdoor activities, are being approached to see what can be done in the city. Starr said that with changes in how people congregate due to the COVID-19 epidemic, “this is a good time to embrace” the idea.

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Nick Sabo: 740-397-5333 or nsabo@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @twitter.com/mountvernonnews