The Baker City Council on Tuesday restricted parking on a section of Broadway Street near Brooklyn Primary School so students can walk from the school to waiting cars without having to cross a street.
Councilors also voted to give $50,000 from the city’s federal COVID-19 aid to Community Connection of Baker County.
Brooklyn School parking
Brooklyn Principal Phil Anderson asked the City Council to restrict parking on the south side of Broadway, from Clark Street east to 50 feet west of Ash Street, between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Broadway borders the Brooklyn property on the north.
“This would be the area right by the playground on the back side,” said Michelle Owen, the city’s public works director.
According to Owen’s report to councilors, there has been an increase in student drop offs and pickups at Brooklyn School and to improve safety, Anderson wants to designate drop off and pickup zones by age.
“Allowing the young students to exit vehicles directly onto school grounds is the safest option, but the current drop off zone on Washington is not large enough to accommodate all of the vehicles that arrive and depart,” Owen wrote in her report.
Restricting parking on the south side of Broadway would create a new dropoff and pickup site for students.
Owen said the city can install signs for less than $500.
The school district also plans to build a new parking lot at Washington and Oak, at the southeast corner of the school, to accommodate parent parking.
Councilors voted unanimously to approve a resolution restricting parking on the south side of Broadway.
Councilor Doni Bruland suggested the city consider making the section of Broadway between Clark and Oak, which spans the entire Brooklyn property, a one-way street.
“It is a bear any time there’s a bunch of parents or people there,” Bruland said. “It is impossible to get through, it’s dangerous.”
“Having younger kids crossing the street, it’s an accident waiting to happen,” Councilor Arvid Andersen said.
Owen said she would need to talk to Anderson and Police Chief Ray Duman, as well as solicit opinions from area residents, before making a formal proposal to change the traffic pattern on that section of Broadway.
Aid to Community Connection
City Manager Fred Warner Jr. said the city received $292,929 from the federal CARES Act, passed by Congress in late March to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Warner said the city needs to decide how to use its allocation by Dec. 31.
Warner said Council can discuss criteria for distributing the money, and he suggested councilors consider helping organizations such as Community Connection.
“They have some COVID money that they got but the demand (for their services) is really high,” Warner said. “We talked about potentially passing $25,000 to them to be used for people that have been out of work or have a COVID-related thing.”
“The city, we’ve had very little impact from COVID so I personally believe that we need to look for businesses that are struggling and individuals that are struggling,” he said.
Councilors voted 6-1 to give $50,000 to Community Connection.
Mayor Loran Joseph asked if Warner was asking councilors to develop criteria for potential applicants for a share of the money.
“I think at some point there may be some need to help businesses,” Warner said. “I think we don’t know what the need is like right now, other than I know that individuals are struggling and Community Connection is a good spot. I’m not saying give all the money to them or anything.”
Warner also mentioned the Economic Development Council, which has worked with businesses seeking loans, grants and other COVID-19 aid, as a potential recipient.
Joseph agreed that the city should seek to help businesses if possible.
“I do believe we should also take some of that money and set it aside for businesses,” he said. “I don’t know what entity that would be to sort through that and make sure that businesses that have no safety loans or other assistance are able to access some funds.”
In any case, the city needs to be sure the money is used for legitimate purposes, he said.
“At the end of the day the city is accountable for the money if we get audited so we want to make sure that whoever we’re working with is putting the dollars out the way that they’re supposed to be put out,” Warner said.
Warner said he believes there are faith-based organizations, such as the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center, that may be able to provide services as well.
“We can drive people to Community Connection or whoever we put this money to so that they are there to get the services,” Warner said.
Councilor Lynette Perry said she would prefer to make sure each recipient of city dollars is not also receiving COVID-19 aid from another source.
“I think the Community Connection idea is excellent,” Perry said. “They’ve got the staff in place, they’ve got the know-how and I’d hate to see us eat up staff time here, having to deal with it. Give it to somebody that’s already dealing with folks that are in need and they understand how to work with folks and help them.”
Bruland, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the motion to give $50,000 to Community Connection, said she wants the city to also extend the offer to churches that are helping people.
Bruland said she thinks the Council should have waited to disburse any money until it has a list of potential recipients.
In other business Tuesday, councilors:
• Appointed Perry, Joseph and Councilor Jason Spriet as the selection committee to help organize the city’s recruitment for a new city manager. Warner plans to retire at the end of this year.