VILONIA — The Vilonia Police Department has been given the authority to begin enforcing new parking rules on city streets.

The city council approved a parking ordinance Tuesday night and enacted it under an emergency clause making it effectively immediately.

"There shouldn’t be any place in the city where someone should be able to constrict a street where an emergency vehicle can’t get through," Mayor James Firestone said.

Firestone said complaints have been coming in from more than one subdivision for a few months regarding parked vehicles constricting the normal flow of traffic. Firestone voiced concerns regarding emergency vehicles access into some areas of the city as well as limiting school buses and mail carriers.

Members of the council said they are aware street parking is not a problem in some areas where the streets are wider.

"The problem is not citywide," Firestone said. "But you can’t pass an ordinance to govern select subdivisions. That’s not the way it works."

According to the ordinance, no vehicle may be parked on any residential street in front of a private driveway or within five feet of the curb radius leading thereto; directly across on the side of the street opposite any private drive entrance; directly across and on the opposite side of the street from a vehicle that is already parked or in any manner that will constrict the normal flow of traffic; on any residential street within 20 feet either side of a mailbox or within 15 feet either side of a fire hydrant; parallel to the curb, must be parked heading in the direction of the flow of traffic for that lane.

"People can still park on the street," Firestone said. "They just must be aware of other people and their surroundings."

Under the penalty clause, those who fail to comply and are found guilty are subject to a fine of at least $100 plus court costs. Each day the violation continues to exist will be deemed as a separate offense, according to the ordinance and additional fees may be added. 

There will be a 30-day window for educating the public prior to tickets being issued and fines being levied. Chief of Police Brad McNew told the council he doesn’t believe it will be necessary for many tickets to be written. When residents are educated regarding the new law and intent, he said, he believes they will comply. In the past, he said, when residents have been asked to move, they have refused saying there is no law regulating parking in the city.

In other business:

• irestone said the city has reached an eligibility status allowing it to become a city of the First Class. Council members said they would need to hear the pro’s and con’s before making an informed decision. One area of change, Firestone said, would be regarding bid procedures. As well, he said, it would affect the city clerk and recorder/treasurer.

"As long as the population is under 5,000 we have the option to remain a city of the Second Class," Firestone offered. 

At the council’s request, he said, he would research the issue and bring the information before the council.

"If we want to change, then we can get with the attorney and get an ordinance drawn up," he added. 

• irestone signed a proclamation designating Sept.17-23 as Constitution Week.

Announcements

•  recycling trailer, provided by Faulkner County Solid Waste, will no longer be setting up in the city’s parking lot one Saturday a month, Firestone said. The city, he said, may look at other options to serve this need.

• he fire department’s new truck twisted an axle while participating in the Faulkner County Fair parade, Firestone said. The good news, he said, it is still under warranty.

• epairs on the roof at the Senior Citizen’s Center should begin next week.

• t the city park, new light poles have been ordered to replace those broken by the April tornado. The roof on the concession stand as well as the roof on the pavilion has been repaired, he said. About 130 kids, he said, are signed up for soccer and have been playing a couple of weeks on the fields.

• n behalf of the Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce, Firestone announced that a Town Hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Senior Citizens Center. Confirmed to be in attendance, Firestone said, are Stephen Meeks, Gilbert Baker, Preston Scroggin, Steve Goode and Karl Byrd representing the state and county.

Also, he said, the bypass dedication will take place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, at the intersection with Highway 107. The state Highway Department will have representatives directing parking and residents are invited to attend.