Gun club asks for its own parking spaces

A member from the Iowa River Gun Club asked city council members Monday for designated parking under the north end of the Center Street viaduct.

Rob Christensen, vice president of the Iowa River Gun Club, asked for eight parking spots to be designated gun club only parking, Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., from November until April.

He said parking has been an issue for the club’s older, daytime league members when Fisher changed its smoking policy to no smoking or tobacco use on the premises.

Since then, Christensen said the gun club noticed cigarette butts and people parking in the public parking spots outside of the gun club to smoke, while gun club members park south of the Old Timer Tavern or anywhere else they can find a spot.

“We have a lot of members that are getting up there in age,” Christensen said. “Most of the people have to carry their equipment, some of these gun boxes can be 30 lbs. and it’s very difficult for them to carry it as far as they may have to carry it.”

Randy Wetmore, city administrator, said the gun club’s request is unique because there is at least one other parking area in town the city sells parking spaces for those wanting them reserved, for $25 a space per month.

“If they want to reserve those eight spots like the grocery store does here on First, we actually charge them $25 a month for each space that they use,” Wetmore said. “That’s just something to consider, if we are going to reserve it, it’s kind of a privilege.”

Bob Schubert, 1st Ward council member, asked if the parking fee could come off the gun club’s lease.

The Iowa River Gun Club has been leasing its building under the viaduct for 60 years.

“Their lease is about a $1 a year or $10 a year,” Wetmore said. “So what they are paying now for a lease is pretty much next to free.”

Bob Wenner, at large council member, suggested doing parking similar to the ballparks.

“The city owns the ballparks,” Wenner said. “We lease it to the Little League Softball Association for $1 a year. The parking there is public, but we don’t charge them for parking there.”

Wetmore said the gun club isn’t a public facility and members use it.

“That is true, but we do a lot of service type work for the community,” Christensen said. “Multiple different organizations come in and use it. Most people are members, but we do offer opportunities for people to do stuff there.”

Marla Grabenbauer, 3rd Ward council member, said some city and county workers also use the facility.

Wetmore said the gun club’s parking is a public policy issue and there are other things to balance.

“I don’t see this being a problem if you would put up a sign that says ‘Violators will be shot,'” joked Joel Greer, 2nd Ward council member.

“I’m not going anywhere with that one,” Christensen said.

No decisions were made about the parking issue. Council said they will look into it more.