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Safety concerns cited for switch to parallel parking at post office

Calling it "one of the most serious traffic hazards we have," the city of Sunnyside will convert parking in front of the post office to parallel parking.

Currently there is diagonal parking on Edison Avenue in front of the post office.

But two factors are working to change that.

First, the city is planning to expand the existing fire station nearby on Eighth Street, which will take up most of the area used as a parking lot adjacent to the post office. In a move related to the fire hall expansion, city fire trucks will need to utilize the city's right-of-way through an alley, which the post office currently uses.

But the most urgent concern, City Manager Bob Stockwell told the city council last night, is the danger for motor vehicle accidents with motorists frequently pulling in and out of the post office spaces.

In a memo to council, Stockwell noted, "The diagonal parking in front of the post office creates a series of problems that have resulted in multiple traffic accidents and near accidents."

In addition, Stockwell said traffic is sometimes backed up through the lighted intersection of Seventh and Edison because of the current diaganol parking in front of the post office.

Stockwell said the city has tried unsuccessfully to initiate discussions with the Sunnyside Post Office about creating a mail drop-off lane or additional parking on the post office's property.

Stockwell claimed the response by post office staff is that the new parking arrangement wasn't their concern and that re-configuring the post office's property was out of the question because a sprinkler system had been installed.

Stockwell said those parking spaces immediately in front of the post office will be re-painted this spring to reflect a change to parallel parking.

Council member Bruce Epps joined his colleagues in approving the move, noting the importance of the fire hall expansion.

Councilwoman Carol Stone asked city police to keep a look out on Edison, specifically between Seventh and Eighth streets, because of complaints she has received about motorists crossing the double yellow line to park on the opposite side of the street.

The discussion concluded with Stockwell expressing hope that some of the upper management in the U.S. Postal Service will realize the need to add parking.

"They need to play ball," Stockwell said. "I' think we'll find someone who is willing to talk about this."

When contacted this morning, Sunnyside Post Master Karen Lemmon questioned the city's argument about the frequency of accidents in front of the post office.

She claimed that in her seven years as post master she has only seen one accident. "I want to see the statistics," she said of the city's claim. "They have to justify the thousands of dollars it would cost the post office to put in a parking lot."

Lemmon also stated she has been in contact with two of her superiors within the U.S. Post Office and left a message with a third.

"At this time the postal service is not willing to put any money into parking," Lemmon said of the response she has received to date from the postal service. "The expense is not justified."

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