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MUSCATINE — A debate Thursday night about handicapped-accessible parking along a section of Mississippi Drive opened the Muscatine City Council in-depth session.

"We have the required number of spaces in there per ADA requirements for this project, so this one would be in addition to that," Public Works Director Brian Stineman said. "It does open up a slippery slope. If we do add one here, then somebody wants one somewhere else and somewhere else and somewhere else."

The spot in question is in front of Contrary Brewery on the 400 block of Mississippi Drive. Council discussed options for including more handicapped-accessible parking in the area with a proposal to reinstall a designated space in front of the brewery, add a small ramp to a space in front of Nutrition Outlet and leave the space in front of J&K Button alone. 

"If we dedicate the spaces we’re talking about, 40 percent of the space is going to be restricted and we are talking about public parking," Councilman Tom Spread said. "And while I’m sympathetic to the concern of the folks involved, let’s be aware that we are restricting parking at 40 percent of the available space. And that is a concern to me."

Councilman Santos Saucedo asked if the location was an outlier for the issue of accessible parking or if other parking areas needed to be addressed. Stineman responded the area in question was an outlier and the department looked at the parking spaces after a request was made by Councilman Osmond Malcom.

“At this point we’ve restricted severely what they were used to and so I’m only asking that we make a small accommodation into what we’ve built to allow their business not to be impacted any further than it has been already,” Councilman Kelcey Brackett said regarding patrons with mobility issues who have visited businesses on the block for years.

Malcolm added, "This will probably allow other people with mobility issues who might want to participate in the evening time, so now they have a couple of extra spots. Plus there’s still plenty of parking left, like I said, on Linn Street.

"I see this as a win for the people who have these special needs and it’s a win for the businesses who are seeking the patrons," he continued, "and yeah, we might comply with the ADA laws, but isn’t it a nice feeling to know that we have kind of said, 'yeah, we’re going to go an extra mile for those that need our help?'”

Council formed a consensus for Stineman to proceed with the proposal with Spread as the only opposed councilor.

As far as a timeline for work to be done, Stineman said he doesn’t want to give one at this time as the department's focus is on opening Mississippi Drive, which is set, pending any setbacks, for Thursday.

Work on the accessible parking space could be done after the road is open and council members who approved of the plan, agreed. Stineman anticipated the cost of construction to build the curb and ADA compliant ramp at $1,000.

Malcolm was satisfied with the consensus.

"I think it’s a win-win for the businesses, it’s a win-win for the citizens," he said.

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