Wilmington, IL – Ever since the dividing line was painted on North Water Street it has felt unsafe. The line is much too close to the diagonal spots. When big trucks are in those spots you have to swing wide into the oncoming lane to avoid hitting the parked trucks. Really it’s not any less safe than it was before the line was painted, just now it’s really apparent how far you have to go into the opposite lane to get by.
This may soon be a thing of the past. At next month’s streets committee meeting a vote will be taken to change the parking. Presumably that will pass the committee and then go to the city council for a full vote, before or after they’re done making up reasons to stop business competition within the city limits.
It’s surprising there isn’t an accident downtown daily. Taking the diagonal spots out is the safest thing to do. There is parking behind buildings and on the island lot featuring our bridge to nowhere. Losing a few parking spaces is a good tradeoff for public safety. It would be safer to make the spots for passenger cars only, but that’s still not as safe as it could be and then we’d have to waste police time enforcing it.
There are often cars parked in many of the spaces downtown long after the businesses have closed. Some of this is overflow parking from the bars, but others are people living above the businesses. Apartment tenants and business owners should be parking where they are supposed to be parking, in most cases behind their buildings. If they do not want to be parking there, that is something they should have considered before moving in. The parking spots in front of the downtown businesses should be for customers. Business isn’t exactly thriving downtown and potential customers shouldn’t be pushed away.
One thought about this I had was that this change, while still being a good safety move, may be thought to push people to use our bridge to nowhere, connecting a gravel parking lot to an alley behind the Water Street businesses. Perhaps that would work but ultimately this bridge is just not very useful. I don’t think a lot of people will want to go antique shopping and haul their purchases down the street, through an alley, over a typically unkempt millrace, and finally back to their car in a gravel lot. If the lot was paved maybe it would get some use, but even then the entire concept seems flawed. Our town does not really need seasonal parking like that. Winter is coming up and even less people will use the bridge than the very few that do now.