MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a new plan in place to make it easier to park in Downtown Stillwater, but not everyone is happy about it.

The city is using eminent domain to take over property and go forward with plans for a new parking ramp. Leaders say it was a last resort to solve a major problem.

There are many reasons Minnesota’s first city is on the top of many people’s summer “to do” lists. It has shopping, food, and great scenery. The Gaybert sisters of Chisago enjoyed a day trip, a sister date.

“We’re just bar hopping and shopping and just enjoying Stillwater cause its beautiful,” one said.

And it was a very special date for one family from Apple Valley. It was Stacy Maier’s birthday and her husband took the family on a surprise trip to Stillwater.

But most visitors know that parking can be awfully hard to come by in the town. It’s a problem city leaders also know all too well.

“Parking’s always been an issue in the city, continues to be an issue, particularly in the real busy times — the summer, primarily weekends, even weeknights,” city administrator Tom McCarty said.

(credit: CBS)

He says they are limited on where they can build a parking ramp, because of the hilly landscape. So they’ve narrowed it down to the lot adjacent to Shorty’s Dry Cleaners. The city is planning on using eminent domain to take the property over.

“The city much prefers to do a willing buyer, willing seller approach, and we negotiated for some period with business owner (but) couldn’t reach a number and proceeded under eminent domain,” McCarty said.

The owner of Shorty’s said she has a lot to say about this plan, but because there is ongoing litigation on the matter, she could not give WCCO comment.

The city is proceeding with the plan saying, to add more appeal and more parking to Stillwater, they are going to have to take something away.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield