Group Sues Kalispell Over Parking District Near Flathead High School

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email A group of residents is suing the city of Kalispell over the new parking district in the neighborhood near Flathead High School, claiming the permitting system fails to adequately reduce congestion.Attorneys Sean Frampton and Johnna Preble filed a complaint in Flathead County District Court Sept. 2 on behalf of the Westside Neighbors Association, Inc., a newly formed organization initially made up of three residents. The group is asking the court to throw out the current parking district and force the city to re-establish a district that solves the “traffic, safety, and over-parking issues in the neighborhood,” according to court documents. The lawsuit surfaced three days after the school year commenced and the district restrictions went into effect.A request for a substitute judge was filed Sept. 8. District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht was slated to hear the case. Ulbricht served as Kalispell’s judge for municipal court from 1994-2002 before being elected to district court.The group is requesting a jury trial.The lawsuit is the latest in a contentious saga involving parking around Flathead High School and Elrod Elementary School. Residents have long complained of congested streets, diminished property values and safety hazards due to the influx of students and staff parking in the area throughout the school year.The Kalispell City Council formally adopted Ordinance 1759 on Aug. 3, establishing a 15-block parking district that allowed students and staff from the high school to purchase parking passes along with residents. The council voted 5-2 on July 21 in favor of the district. The approved district was different than previous proposals, including an alternative that sought a five-block district that would exclude students and staff from purchasing passes.As of Sept. 9, students and staff had purchased 22 passes and 122 residential passes were issued, according to city officials. Each resident in the district can receive two free parking passes. Passes are $25 apiece.Police officers have been issuing warnings to vehicles without passes and will begin ticketing offenders Sept. 11.»»» Click here to view the lawsuit.To help alleviate congestion in the neighborhood, Kalispell School District #5 rearranged the entranceway to the high school and added over 20 parking spaces. Another 15 spaces were added in the elementary school playground.During the school year, roughly 250 parking spaces are lacking in the neighborhood around the two sites, according to city data.The lawsuit claims that the streets near the high school remain congested. The lawsuit claims that the congestion has resulted in emergency vehicles and snow plows being blocked or hindered in their performance in the past, and that property values have dropped due to the lingering issues.Devin Kuntz, a resident in the neighborhood who led many of the efforts to address congestion, disagreed with the lawsuit’s claims. He said it was too early to make any hard judgments about the district, but his first impression is that it has improved the situation.“As a resident in the area, compared to where it was, I’m quite pleased with where it’s gone,” he said. “It seems pretty effective. The streets seem fairly uncongested compared to what they were before.”The district, known as the Westside Neighborhood Parking Management Zone, features parking restrictions for Second Avenue West between Sixth and Ninth streets west; Third Avenue West between Fifth and Ninth streets west; Fourth Avenue West between Eighth and Ninth streets west; and all streets between Fourth Avenue and Second Avenue West.last_img

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