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City cracks down on errant wing-lovers; parking at new restaurant causes stir

BEMIDJI -- The recently opened Buffalo Wild Wings has created a wild west of a parking situation, according to city officials.

Craig Gray, public works director, said the city has received “a number of complaints” from residents of nearby 24th Street about restaurant patrons blocking driveways and mailboxes with vehicles. Residents have also complained of people using private driveways to turn around.

“During busy periods there is clearly not enough parking in the private lots for Buffalo Wild Wings and vehicles have been parked on both sides of 24th Street,” Gray said in a memo to City Council members.

That poses a public safety hazard since emergency vehicles can’t get down the narrow street if cars are parked on both sides, Gray said.  

To solve the alleged parking problem, the city voted unanimously Monday night’s meeting to prohibit parking on the north side of 24th Street from Irvine Avenue to where the street ends.

The initial plan was to make the street subject to calendar parking, which allows for parking on one side of the street depending on whether the date is odd or even-numbered. However, Gray recommended the city should simply ban parking entirely on the north side (where the houses are) to avoid a situation where the residents would have vehicles crammed onto their side of the street for half of the week.

“I think that’s a much better solution,” said council member Ron Johnson, adding that calendar parking on other streets is rarely enforced.

“You can see there’s violations on every street that has it, and they’re not ticketed,” he said. “It would be nice to enforce calendar parking a little more.”

Gray said the Bemidji Police Department would be doing “heavy enforcement” on 24th Street once the rules take effect.

City workers will have temporary signs up denoting the rules sometime this week, with permanent signs planned to go up come spring.