By Brandi Makuski
After about a year of construction on a new emergency department, some residents in the Prais Street/Illinois Avenue area say they’re concerned with noise and parking problems related to the project.
Some of those residents attended the July 20 Common Council meeting to voice those concerns. Shari Carpenter told the Council her family is awakened on most days at 5:30 AM by the shuttle bus used to transport employees of Ministry St. Michael’s Hospital to and from an off-site overflow parking lot.
Carpenter, whose family has owned a home on Prais St. for 12 years, said the shuttle is noisy and blocks the view of oncoming traffic.
“I’m concerned for the safety of my children at that intersection,” Carpenter said, also addressing Mayor Mike Wiza directly and asking him to make some kind of immediate change.
More than just noise and safety concerns, Carpenter also said she sees hospital employees loitering in front of her home while taking a cigarette break.
“They also jockey their cars every two hours to avoid a ticket. I am concerned about loitering, litter and second-hand smoke wafting into my home,” she said, suggesting a change in parking ordinance from two hours to 30 or 60 minutes.
Another female resident, who owns a home on Illinois Avenue but asked to remain anonymous, said she is also concerned about the noise.
“If you see Illinois Avenue here,” the woman said, pointing down the street, “when cars are parked on the side of the road, and when that bus comes in and sits there, it’s practically a one-lane road.”
Sarena Melotte, manager for public & community relations at Ministry St. Michael’s, said the shuttle operates from 5:30 AM- 7:30 PM Monday through Friday. Once the redesign of the emergency department is complete in October, she said the shuttle will be moved to another entrance on the Fremont Street side of the building.
Melotte also responded to noise and loitering concerns in an email statement.
“The university and Ministry campuses are both tobacco free. We encourage residents to contact the Stevens Point Police Department to report loitering or littering on personal property,” the statement read.
When asked about safety concerns the residents had, Melotte said those concerns should be referred to the city.
Melotte added Ministry also has a dedicated email address for concerns or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mayor Mike Wiza on Tuesday said it’s the first he’s heard of concerns in that area, and while he plans to follow up, residents need to expect “a certain amount of noise” from city streets.