Council tables Michigan Street ordinance

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Cecil Smith Athletic Field, located along a block of South Michigan Street in Prairie du Chien, is part of a possible ordinance to change traffic flow on the street. The council considered options for the east side of the road (left in picture) to have no parking, parallel parking or handicap parking while the west side (right in picture) could have have diagonal or parallel parking stall. The council did not take approve the ordinance at the July 2 meeting. (Steve Van Kooten/Courier Press)

By Steve Van Kooten


The Mississippi River continues to rise during early July. The river is now expected to crest at approximately 21.6 feet, a half-foot below the major flood threshold, according to the National Weather Service.

On July 11, the farmers market and concerts in the park will take place at Lochner Park. Cancellations for other events, including the War of 1812 and the Prairie du Chien Fire Department’s Family Fun Day, have put a damper on the city’s summer season.

As the city continues to address the high waters, the Prairie du Chien Common Council convened on July 2 to consider multiple ordinances and the administration of municipal flood grant money.

In attendance were alderpersons Andy Ringgold, Kayla Ingham, Mark Bowar, Bob Granzow, Vicki Waller, Nick Crary and Jaaren Riebe. Pam Kiesau was absent. Also in attendance were Mayor David Hemmer, City Administrator Chad Abram, City Planner Nate Gilberts, Street Superintendent Nick Gilberts and Police Chief Kyle Teynor.


Flood Grant

In a case of mild irony, the city was awarded $182,750 from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Municipal Flood Control Program. The DNR grant provides money for various flood control activities, which includes flood-proofing private residences by elevating the structures above the base flood elevation.

The Wisconsin DNR designated flood-proofing and elevation of public and private structures as one of nine project types covered under the program. The anchorage of structures, reinforcement to resist rupture or collapse and the elevation and placement of essential utilities are among the eligible activities. On the prioritized list of approved project types, elevations and flood-proofing of structures ranked fifth, with four types of property acquisition and structure removal slotted above them.

Nate Gilberts said the houses and utilities would be raised, basements and underlying structures would be eliminated and the installation of either a crawl space or new basement would be completed as part of the project’s activities.

The DNR grant will match up to 50 percent of project costs through reimbursement. The rest of the cost will be the responsibility of the homeowners.

In March, Community Development Alternatives Executive Director Dale Klemme said if the homeowners were income-eligible, they could receive a zero percent interest-deferred payment loan. The loans will be through a city affordable housing program administered by CDA.

The grant stipulates that all work must be done between July 1, 2024, and July 1, 2026 to qualify for reimbursement.

Two households agreed to pursue the project. The residences are located on North Main Street and South Beaumont Road.

According to Nate Gilberts, CDA will administer the grant money and report project costs to the city planner. Klemme assisted the residents and the city to pursue grant funding and presented the grant application to the council on March 13.

The council accepted the municipal flood control award.


Michigan Street

The council revisited plans to change parking and travel regulations for a portion of Michigan Street. An ordinance would change Michigan Street to a southbound one-way road between Blackhawk Avenue and Mooney Street, designate diagonal parking stalls for the west side of South Michigan between Mooney and East Taylor Streets and place parallel handicap parking stalls on the east side of the same block.

Kiesau asked about traffic control around Cecil Smith Park, specifically during the summer months, at the June 4 meeting. At the time, she questioned whether the street had enough room to be a two-lane road.

The council discussed possible options at the June 18 meeting, and the Public Works Committee submitted the above recommendations to the council.

“With the east side being parallel parking for handicap parking—three or four stalls—then diagonal parking on the west side, is that too tight to have two-way traffic?” Riebe asked Teynor.

“I would say, depending on the diagonal parking on the west side, I would go one-way,” Teynor answered. “Now, if you did that parallel parking on both sides, and the handicap on the east side, you could make it a two-way street.”

Teynor said he had no preference on whether the street remained a two-way road or not; however, he did check on the crash data for that area. Since 2010, there have been three accidents on that block, all of which were considered property damage only accidents.

Renee Martin, a resident of Prairie du Chien who lives on Michigan Street near Cecil Smith Park, spoke to the council about the proposed changes.

“If you make this [street] from Dunn Street to Mooney Street one way, it will affect a lot of people that live south of the ballpark. People on 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, Parkview Court and a block of South Michigan Street.”

Martin agreed that the area posed a safety hazard and suggested the council designate the west side of the street to have parallel parking, retain the street as a two-way road, and change the parking on the east side of the street to either parallel parking or eliminate parking on that side altogether.

Martin also suggested the city put up signs in the St. John’s Catholic Church parking lot to notify parkgoers that the lot is open for their use.

“They aren’t using that parking lot. We have a lot of new people.”

Bowar said, “If we are going to keep it two-way, there’s no way we can go diagonal, in my opinion. If we’re going to do one-way, we can go diagonal.”

Abram said that the project was “not one of the main projects we are working on” when asked about a possible timetable for the changes.

The ordinance was sent back to the Public Works Committee for further evaluation.


Other business

• approved a street closure permit for the Prairie du Chien K9 Foundation for Oct. 12, 2024. The request designates the closure of the 100 block of North Wacouta Avenue for an event that will include raffles and games, according to the application submitted to the city. The event paperwork estimated an approximate attendance of 400 people.

• Abram said the city had closed on the property for the Prairie Bluffs Cottages, and construction on that project is expected to commence “shortly.”

• approved an ordinance for the city’s compost and brush site hours and regulations. The compost site will now be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. between April 1 and November 30. Materials accepted there will include leaves, grass clippings, garden waste, sod, flowers, and corn stalks. The brush site will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on the second and third Saturdays of each month and the first Monday of each month between April and the second week of November. Abram said a notice must run to the public for two weeks before the schedule change on the brush site, which means the first time the site will be open on Monday will be the first one in August. Materials accepted there include brush, branches and tree limbs that are less than six inches in diameter.

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