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Urban Waters plans to redevelop this city owned parking lot on Park Drive into multi-family housing.

The sale of the city owned parking lot on Park Drive once again drew criticism from several Ralston business owners at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The controversy around the parking lot started when Ralston's City Council voted Oct. 15 to enter negotiations with Urban Waters to develop the city owned parking lot. Urban Waters plans to repurpose the lot primarily for multi-family housing.

Pat Eccles, owner of Eccles Heating and Air Conditioning a block south of the parking lot, questioned a recent parking study that concluded the parking lot was underused.

Eccles said the decision to surrender the parking lot should fall to the public.

"Let the public vote in May if they want to get rid of that parking lot," Eccles said.

Dave Shively, a volunteer with the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department, said he, too, opposes the sale as a matter of safety of first responders.

The RVFD is located directly cross the street from the parking lot.

"Us guys answering these fire and rescue calls, if there's people parked out here we've got to park clear up the street," Shively said.

"Running down a hill in the snow, it's not going to be any fun and somebody is going to get hurt."

Not all who addressed the council objected to the sale, including Tom Kjar, the former chairman of the Ralston Planning Commission.

"Everyone wants to see Ralston remain independent," Kjar said. "I think the opportunity to remain independent in the future depends upon whether we can expand our tax base."

Kjar said the tax base depends on expanding retail sales and attracting more people to Ralston.

Council President Jerry Krause said the city will address issues raised, but the city can't solve everyone's problems unless the city gets input.

"We have got to develop a tax base in this city or we aren't going to have a city," Krause said.

"How are we going to keep paying the police and keep a police force? That's probably more important than somebody's employee being able to park in front of their building."

The council is schedule to make a decision on the sale at its next council meeting Feb. 18.

 In other action, the council:

• Approved a purchase agreement for the city to buy back the Side Room Lounge. The owners of the Side Room Lounge wanted some stylistic changes to the agreement so the resolution was tabled until Tuesday's meeting.

• Approved the mayor's appointments of City Administrator Rick Hoppe and City Attorney Don Ficenec to the Community Redevelopment Authority.

• Approved the first reading of three ordinances that dealt with updating sections of Ralston municipal code to reflect current state statutes.

The municipal codes included updates regarding mayoral succession, passing ordinances, fiscal management and contract votes.

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