By Mary Spicer
The ongoing effort of Meadville City Council’s Parking Subcommittee to eliminate downtown parking congestion is taking a step forward.
The subcommittee’s hope is to shift vehicles used to transport employees working for downtown businesses to and from work out of the parking spaces that are intended for the use of consumers wanting to patronize those businesses.
During council’s June 19 monthly meeting, councilmembers Nancy Mangilo-Bittner and Bob Langley presented the first phase of their report on the state of parking in downtown Meadville.
“We believe that there will be sufficient space available in the parking garage, city lots and private lots to house those employees currently parking in the metered spots, preventing possible consumers from visiting our downtown business area,” Mangilo-Bittner said.
“This is a good time for us to work with individual employees to get them where they need to be,” Langley said.
“Employees (parking) at meters are put on warning right now,” Mangilo-Bittner said. “You have to move out of those spaces.”
The game plan, City Manager Joe Chriest told the Tribune during a recent interview, is for the month of July to serve as something of a grace period, although cars parked at expired meters or in illegal locations will certainly continue to be ticketed.
“Summertime is the time to start freeing some things up so we can minimize the problem,” Chriest said. “As Nancy and Bob said, ‘One step at a time.’ Let’s see if we can get these people into rental spaces.”
The first step in freeing things up will be taken Monday, when the city’s parking enforcement officers will begin placing copies of a letter written by Chriest onto the windshields of vehicles they’ve noticed parked regularly at downtown meters.
“If people are just letting their cars sit there and plugging the meters,” Chriest said, “our enforcement folks will be collecting the license plate number and putting a letter on the car.”
“Dear Parking Patron,
“The Meadville City Council and city administration have been investigating ways to free up metered parking for patrons of the downtown businesses and thus encourage more shopping in downtown Meadville. During this process we discovered that numerous employees of downtown businesses were parking in metered spaces. This practice has a negative impact on the businesses that rely on the availability of metered parking for their customers.
“City ordinances make it a violation to stay in a metered spot beyond the time limit of the meter. This is to encourage turnover in the spaces for business patrons. Additionally, moving your vehicle from one meter to another is not a solution to the lack of convenient parking for customers.
“The city’s meter attendants have noticed your vehicle routinely occupying metered spaces. This leads us to believe you are employed in the downtown business district. The city has a number of rental spaces available at various rates and locations. We encourage you to contact the City Treasurer’s Office at 333-3345 or 724-6000 to find a space that is convenient for your needs. The city is offering a $5/month discount for new renters who reserve a space by July 31. If you are a part-time employee, perhaps you can share a space with other part-time employees at your place of business.
“After July 31 the city will aggressively enforce our ordinances with respect to the abuse of metered space occupancy. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”
Placing letters on parked vehicles is part of a multi-pronged approach. Plans also call for letters to go out to all the businesses that responded to the survey distributed and compiled by Mangilo-Bittner and Langley earlier in the year.
“We’ll thank them for participating in the survey — and encourage them to talk to their friends and neighbors about encouraging employees to go out and rent a space,” Chriest said, noting that the city is also gearing up to make it easier for the city treasurer’s office to track and follow up on delinquent payments for rental parking spaces.
Council’s July study session has been moved to Wednesday as a result of the Independence Day holiday and will meet at 4 p.m. The July meeting will be July 17, the regularly-scheduled third Wednesday of the month, and will begin at 6 p.m.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to watch for
Meadville City Council’s July study session has been moved to Wednesday as a result of the Independence Day holiday and will meet at 4 p.m. The July meeting will be July 17, the regularly-scheduled third Wednesday of the month, and will begin at 6 p.m.