by Dennis Dalman
Parking problems can be a very good thing, according to several Sartell City Council members, who gave Grands of Mulligan’s permission to proceed with a hugely expanded second parking lot.
The need for more parking means business is booming, and when business booms, it brings visitors and income circulating within the city.
Those council comments came during a consideration at the July 8 council meeting of a request by Mulligan’s for site-plan approval of a new parking lot.
The new lot will be constructed to the north of the Mulligan’s Restaurant and Banquet Center and just west of the Pinecone Apartments, which are to the north of Mulligan’s. A parking lot is a permitted use in that area, which is zoned Residential-1. The Sartell Planning Commission recommended approval of the request at an earlier meeting.
The bituminous lot with curb-and-gutter will be built on a 2.2-acre site. Mulligan’s now has 145 parking spaces in the lot just east of the building. The new lot would add 112 more spaces, each 9 feet by 20 feet. There will be green space at the lot as well as a 25-foot evergreen-tree buffer zone to the east near the apartment complex.
Mulligan’s is booked every weekend for events, mainly weddings. At times, some guests have parked in the Pine Meadow Elementary School parking lot and walked across the street to Mulligan’s. During Friday and Saturday nights, the Mulligan’s lot fills up very quickly, said Sartell City Planner and Developer Anita Rasmussen.
The council asked Sartell City Engineer Mike Nielson about potential water problems caused by an impervious bituminous surface. The water, he said, would discharge onto the west side where there is a holding pond.
Council member Amy Braig-Lindstrom said as a former Mulligan’s employee, she is well aware how busy the establishment is during weekends. Still, Braig-Lindstrom questioned the need for that many additional parking spaces. She also said she is concerned about water problems and their effects on the golf course to the west.
Mulligan’s owner Jason Becker addressed the council. He said some events they won’t even schedule, knowing there will not be enough parking spaces. For weddings, he said, multiple people typically ride in just one car, which lessens demand on the parking lot.
“We need more parking to grow our business,” he said.
Council members agreed.
“Parking means more business,” said Sartell Mayor Joe Perske. “That’s a very good sign.”
Member Steve Hennes said the original owner of Mulligan’s created a too-small lot. Hennes also said a parking lot is needed so people will not have to cross busy Pinecone Road if they choose to park across the street from Mulligan’s.
Member Sarah Jane Nicoll made the same point, noting that crossing the road, especially in icy winter weather, is dangerous.
“It’s great to have the problem of many people coming to their business,” Nicoll said. “It’s a reasonable request.”
Engineer Nielson said he expects no problems using the same ingress-egress point to and from Pinecone Road for both parking lots.
The council voted unanimously to approve the site-plan request.