09-12-2019 Coloma business owners call for action to stop parking feud; City commissioner calls sit

9-11 SERVICE RECALLS SACRIFICES OF EMERGENCY RESPONDERS OF SEPT. 11, 2001 and those of all emergency responders every day. VFW commander of the Watervliet Post MC’d the program which included the Pledge of Allegiance by the Watervliet 5th grade class, an opening prayer by American Legion Vet, Pete Petruk, the National Anthem sung by those attending, the message given by Pastor David Haase, and the Rifle Salute and Taps performed by the North Berrien Military Rites Team. Four wreaths commemorating the courage and honor of the Police, Fire, Military, and the Medical Community for their daily sacrifices were presented in front of the flag poles. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)

Coloma business owners call for action to stop parking feud; City commissioner calls situation “ridiculous” and suggests path to resolution

By Nancy Albright A public parking debate that has been raging since July continues to escalate and commissioners and business owners are calling for a solution. In July, Denise Donohoe, owner of Coletta’s Closet/Keep Me in Mind, 144 N. Church St., requested that the city consider reinstating the parking spaces in front of her business for customers. She said that painted lines designating parking had worn off. The Department of Public Works was instructed to paint the spaces NO PARKING until the city attorney could fully review the situation. Taylor Prestidge, owner of Soulard’s Café, 124 N. Church St., reported at the same meeting that Donohoe uses the No Parking zone as a loading zone and has harassed café customers that use the zone to drop off people to shop downtown, including a State Representative that parked temporarily to pick up a table Prestidge loaned for use at the Glad-Peach Festival. Prestidge also stated in July that Donohoe claimed the alley next to Coletta’s Closet is parking for her customers. Prestidge pointed out that the alley is Baker Street, and the spaces are designated for public parking. On September 9 at the Coloma City Commission meeting, Prestidge told the council that a car had been parked in a two-hour parking zone in front of her business all day and was still parked there when she closed the café to attend the city council meeting. She took pictures throughout the day to document the violation. “I have asked the city for help, filed complaints and spoken to the police. I have been accused of favoritism and I don’t think it’s fair that one person should bully the town over parking.” Prestidge stated that she works hard to make her business a success and that the situation is nonsense and needs to stop. “I don’t know why the city even put up the signs if they don’t enforce the law.” Coloma Chief of Police Wes Smigielski said that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that marking tires with chalk to gauge how long a vehicle has been parked in a time-regulated space is now illegal. The chief stated that he would like to research the situation further and is willing to discuss options with all parties involved in an adult manner. “I don’t want to see any business owners leave Coloma over parking issues and would like to help overcome these barriers.” He also suggested that Prestidge give the photos to Public Works Supervisor Rob Burkholder, who also serves as the City Ordinance Officer, so he can monitor the situation and ticket as necessary. City Commissioner Fred Reeves called the situation “ridiculous” and urged Donohoe and Prestidge to document their complaints and any evidence they have collected and give it to the city council. “We should meet in a neutral zone, such as Coloma Township Hall, to rectify this issue as adults.” Donohoe told the council she was berated in front of a customer and a Watervliet business owner, and that she plans to contact her attorney.

Blight ordinance revised On August 12, Coloma resident Joyce Williams requested that the council consider revising the city’s blight ordinance that indicated residential garbage cans must be kept out of view when not on the curb for pick-up: “Trash receptacles must be removed from view within 24 hours of pick-up service.” Williams pointed out that some people don’t have a garage or other means to completely hide garbage cans. Ordinance Committee Chair Jason Hicks told Williams that the committee would work with the public to re-word the language. In a letter to city officials dated S