Business no longer barking at city, ODOT over parking spacesMitch and Connie Fery, owners of Astoria Grooming, will get back all of the on-street parking spaces eliminated from in front of their business last week to make way for a center turn lane for trucks delivering to the new Safeway store.

To restore the parking spaces, a newly designated six-foot wide bike path on the north side of Marine Drive between 31st and 32nd streets will be removed, said Mike Spaeth, district manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The center turn lane will be retained and lanes of travel will be shifted slightly to the south, Spaeth added.

With help from ODOT staff in Salem, Spaeth came up with the plan, which was approved by the city this week. "They'll have it all back again," Spaeth said. "I'm very pleased at how it all turned out."

On April 5, the Ferys, who operate a business at 3162 Marine Drive, had protested to the Astoria City Council that on-street parking is critical to their business. The mayor and council members said it was the first they had heard about the issue.

Spaeth said the parking change had been in the works since last summer, and he thought property owners in the area, which includes the Northwest Regional Education Service District building, had agreed to it.

ODOT's striping crew has a week's worth of work to do at the Cascade Summit passes, weather permitting, Spaeth said, so it will be at least a couple of weeks before the crew can come to Astoria to put the two-hour parking signs back up and restripe the pavement. "I told them it's really urgent," Spaeth said.

The Ferys are eager for the plan to be implemented. "It's been eight days now without parking," Mitch Fery said Wednesday, "and every day a string of people complain." He said it's been especially hard on elderly and handicapped customers, because it's necessary to climb a steep flight of stairs to enter the business from a small parking lot behind the building.

Fery said he and his wife are pleased with the way city officials and ODOT worked together to come up with a solution, especially Spaeth and Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen.

But his joy comes with a touch of skepticism.

"We're elated, but we'll believe it when we see it," Fery said. "It was such a shocker when they took it away."

Meanwhile, Spaeth said ODOTand city officials are working together to improve communication and have identified some areas that need improvement. "We'll work hard to be sure nothing like this ever happens again," Spaeth said.