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City has sufficient handicapped parking

Commissioner: We are open to suggestions

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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
When it comes to state laws for handicapped parking, Dixon is in compliance, Streets Commissioner Jeff Kuhn told the City Council in response to a resident’s concerns that there should be more such spaces, and in more spots more convenient to the disabled.

DIXON – The city is in compliance with state laws for handicapped parking, a commissioner reported after a resident expressed concern about the number of handicapped parking spaces downtown, and their accessibility.

Earlier this month, Dixon resident Josie Whaley, who attends council meetings regularly, asked the City Council why certain spots were removed on the 100 block of South Peoria Avenue.

The downtown area, between Ottawa Avenue and High Street east to west and River Street to Second Street north to south, has 168 off-street parking spaces, Streets Commissioner Jeff Kuhn said at Monday's meeting.

Of those, the city has nine handicapped spots; state law requires a minimum of six, he said.

The city also has 258 parking stalls in downtown lots, 11 of which are for handicapped parking. State law requires a minimum of seven.

Parking spaces also are required to be closest to accessible entrances, or closest to a curbed ramp, the Illinois attorney general's office said.

Again, the city is in compliance, he said.

Still, there is more the city can do, Whaley said.

"I want to give Commissioner Kuhn and the city credit for responding to my concern," she said in a phone interview Tuesday. "However, just meeting the requirements doesn't always mean it's right the way it is."

For instance, there are no handicapped parking spots on First Street between Peoria and Galena avenues, Whaley said.

If a person with a handicapped parking permit wanted to eat at Touch of Thai on First Street, he or she would have to park at a spot across Peoria Avenue or down the street on Hennepin Avenue, she said.

"That's not really that accessible," Whaley said. "There are no handicapped spots on the main drag of our downtown."

She also would like to see a handicapped space closer to City Hall, again noting that a disabled person would have to cross streets to reach the entrance.

Kuhn said the city is open to any suggestions from residents regarding handicapped parking issues.

Three handicapped spaces were added to the Beanblossom parking lot between River Street and Commercial Alley in response to residents' concerns, he said.

With that said, he also wants to remind people that the city must follow state guidelines and appease downtown business owners, who may not want to lose general parking spaces near their locations.

Ultimately, Dixon's police chief decides where handicapped spaces are located, Kuhn said.

Residents can call City Hall, 815-288-1485, or email jeff.kuhn@discoverdixon.org with any suggestions or concerns.

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