A pair of executive sessions the Bingen City Council held in May turned out to be much ado about no action.
During two separate council meetings (May 7 and May 21), the mayor and members of the City Council went into closed-door session to discuss real estate transactions. One discussion revolved around a possible purchase of the parcel directly east of Mother's Marketplace (415 W. Steuben) in Bingen. The other proposal regarded entering into land-lease agreements with businesses located along Depot Street in Bingen.
In both cases, the property would have been used to create more parking for the downtown business district.
Mayor Brian Prigel said the council members determined that neither arrangement would be appropriate.
"We're not pursuing buying the vacant lot next to Mother's Market," Prigel said.
Prigel explained that the owner of the land, Jepson West, suggested in a May 20 letter to the city that the property be purchased by Bingen to provide parking.
"If we had bought it, it probably would have been for parking," Prigel said. "But the council felt at this point we didn't want to pursue it."
Prigel added that the asking price of the approximately 8,000-square-foot, corner parcel was $97,000.
The city made its decision formal and final in a May 24 letter to West: "The City Council voted at its regular council meeting on May 21 not to purchase the subject property," Prigel wrote. "However, we understand your concerns about the parking and the restrictions the city's off-street parking ordinance may place on your property. The staff and I will be recommending an amendment to the city's ordinance that will create a new downtown commercial zone with new parking requirements. This proposed amendment, if adopted, should address the concerns you have related to parking requirements on your property."
The council also decided against leasing land on Depot Street to provide adjacent business owners with adequate parking. Prigel said leasing the city-owned property to businesses was not necessary.
"The City Council voted not to lease any property on Depot Street as it has not prepared any plans for the futures uses of Depot Street," Prigel explained. "There is nothing currently that prohibits parking on the portion of Depot Street that is owned by the city including commercial truck, employee, and customer parking."
Prigel added that Bingen ordinances identify two-hour parking for all vehicles along Steuben (SR 14) from Walnut Street to Oak Street. According to Prigel, the City Council recently agreed the two-hour limitation should be maintained, and signs to that effect will be put up along Steuben during the upcoming highway repaving project slated for this fall.