By Mary Spicer
A recent survey of downtown businesses is complete, results have been compiled and Meadville City Council members Nancy Mangilo-Bittner and Bob Langley are anxious to move forward on addressing a list of four key issues they say are making Meadville less than friendly to businesses and their customers.
The two, who formed council’s official subcommittee on parking in response to a complaint lodged by a downtown businessperson about metered parking spaces being filled by employees instead of customers, sent out a mail survey to more than 200 businesses.
As the result of employing a variety of response-collection techniques, including going door-to-door, they reported an 80-percent rate of return during council’s recent monthly meeting. In comparison, a report published by the American Association for Public Opinion Research notes that the average rate of response to business surveys may range from lows of 10 percent to a maximum of 50 percent.
According to Mangilo-Bittner and Langley, four complaints emerging again and again require immediate action:
n Fines for parking violations, which start at $10 for an expired meter, are too high.
n Designated hours for enforcing metered parking, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., are too long. Mangilo-Bittner and Langley recommend reducing the hours of enforcement from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
n Options for employee parking are limited.
n The two-hour maximum time allowed for parking at some meters is not long enough.
“These are all the common things that came up,” Langley told council after he and Mangilo-Bittner read a detailed list of suggestions received. “We know it can’t be resolved overnight. This is a starting point.”
While Mangilo-Bittner and Langley are calling for discussions to begin on all four issues as soon as more information can be compiled by city employees, Mayor Christopher Soff wants that discussion limited to finding parking spaces for downtown employees.
Explaining that it was his understanding that the parking subcommittee was going to look at issues of employees occupying metered parking spots that are therefore not available for customer parking, “If we can find a better way to handle that, it may solve other problems,” Soff said. Because the survey was confined to downtown businesses, it left out all the other parties who would have an interest in a wider discussion, he added.
“Our goal is to bring businesses to downtown Meadville,” Mangilo-Bittner replied. “You have to look at the whole picture.”
City Manager Joe Chriest said that he will have information requested by the subcommittee ready for council to examine in June.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.