As promised, Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner and the Ozark Board of Aldermen reopened discussion of a semi-truck parking dilemma April 1. Tractor-trailers are affecting several areas in Ozark.
The issue resurfaced in February when several truckers urged city leaders not to prohibit parking the 18-wheelers on city streets.
“All of this came about from phone calls and we haven’t talked about this in five years,” Gardner said at last month’s meeting. “What I am hearing is there are more restrictions elsewhere and it is causing more trucks here.“
It is a nationwide problem that’s come to Ozark, Ward I Alderman Nathan Posten said.
“I had a parent who was a trucker; my brother was a trucker,” Posten said. “I’ve got a lot of sympathy. This is national problem. Truck parking is problem nationwide. Now a national problem has landed in Ozark’s lap and we can’t fix it. This is a city that works hard to stretch every dollar. It is a big challenge.”
Gardner said that the aldermen have not brought forward any legislation because they wanted more input from residents, truckers and business owners.
“I want more input from citizens,” Gardner said. “We would like to hear from those in favor of some regulation and then from those opposed.”
At Monday’s meeting Gardner heard, loud and clear, from several people whose businesses are adversely affected by semi-trucks parking on adjacent city streets.
Dr. Michael Divine, owner of Divine Veterinary Clinic on Farmers Branch Road was one of them.
“These trucks parking on our city streets have been a problem for our business people,” Divine said. “I have people saying they are having trouble maneuvering around this trucks. We see them pulling up and parking for days at a time. It is creating a very undesirable environment. “
Divine said he’s opposed to the trucks parking on city streets and has seen a decided increase over the last couple of months.
“And, they keep coming, “ he said. “It is just a nuisance that is dangerous. In every avenue they are causing problems. I would appreciate if our city would step up and help us. As business people we are really being hurt by this.”
Dr. Nicholas Matthews, whose dental office is on State Route J, agreed.
“The asphalt is taking a beating,” Matthews said. “It is not conducive to running a small business in town.”
Ozark property developer Wayne Scheer also urged the city to regulate tractor-trailer parking. He said his business development on Skyline Drive near Lambert’s in north Ozark is impacted.
“Skyline is a big deal to me,” Scheer said. “There was never a truck parked there in 28 years. But about four months ago the trucks started coming. They make (Skyline) a one-lane street. “
Scheer said he empathized with the truckers, knowing that they deliver vital products to businesses all over Ozark. They need a place to park, and he said there are three truck stops on Interstate-44 within 30 minutes of Ozark that can accommodate at least 400 truckers at $15 a night per tractor-trailer.
“To me that would solve the problem,” Scheer said. “The solution is more truck stops. Those three can accommodate 400 semi-trucks…the answer isn’t just parking anywhere.”
Scheer urged the city to pass an ordinance to prohibit overnight parking on city streets.
But Tracey Tracy, the lone voice for the truckers at the April 1 meeting, said it’s not that simple. Her husband is a long-haul driver.
“I understand,” Tracy said. “But if you’re coming into town late, there is nowhere to park. We need something built. If your family was coming home for two days, where would you park?”
She said an industry rule that regulates the driver time behind the wheel sometimes prohibits the trucker from driving another 30 minutes to a truck stop.
“It is completely on the driver (to find) a place to park,” she said. “The schedule isn’t controlled by the driver. “
Ward I Alderman John Torgerson suggested the board form a committee to study a solution for the city. Ward III Alderman Jason Shaffer agreed to work with Torgerson. The problem primarily affects the city’s south and north sides.
The two aldermen will work with City Attorney Amanda Callaway and Police Chief Tim Clothier to draft a bill.
Gardner reiterated that a nearby truck stop would solve the city’s and the trucker’s parking problem and invited business developers to consider building one.