Marshfield officials address concerns with one-time skating rink
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – Marshfield officials are trying to address concerns associated with the possible residential development of a one-time skating rink which is now used for parking.
This week, Marshfield’s Board of Public Works discussed issues tied to traffic and pedestrian safety at Eighth Street and Hemlock Avenue, after nearby residents spoke out against the city’s plans to entertain offers for residential developments on the property.
Public Works Director Dan Knoeck said the main concern is that already-congested on-street parking during sporting events at Beell Stadium will get even worse if the skating rink-turned-parking lot is eliminated.
“Right now, during a football game or other events at the school, you get parking in these neighborhood streets and that would likely expand if the location at Hemlock and Eighth is not available,” he said, “and that’s not necessarily a problem, it just pushes parking further out, and that’s pretty much how parking has been handled at this stadium since the early times when it was built.”
Residents have reported seeing parents and others parking at the end of, or in some cases in, their driveways.
Another concern is the intersection of Eighth and Palmetto Avenue, which is a somewhat blind intersection, especially before and after school and during sporting events.
City Engineer Tom Turchi says his data does not seem to support concerns about traffic safety in the area.
“Just a quick review of traffic crashes, we had none at Eighth and Hemlock,” he said. “I looked from this year, all of the way back to 1994, and there were no recorded crashes at that intersection. At Eighth and Palmetto, I looked back five years, and we only had two crashes.”
The main concern of the residents who live there is losing parking in an empty lot that now holds roughly 100 vehicles. Carrie Weister lives at 1105 Weister Court adjacent to the lot, and voiced her concerns to the Sept. 25 common council meeting.
“Public safety cannot be stressed enough in this situation – it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” she said. “So, I don’t know where y’all think people are going to be parking, because there is going to be parking on one side of the street and no place else.”
Police Chief Rick Gramza told the Public-Works Board that his department took an informal traffic count during the Sept. 28 football game, and came up with 542 vehicles parked on the streets around the stadium or on the Hemlock property. That did not include the lots behind the Middle School.
Meanwhile, city staff has received only one proposal for placing housing on the empty lot at Eighth and Hemlock.