2013-05-15 / Police & Safety

Parking struggles continue

by Jazz Clark

Town of Bath officials still seem to be at odds with local businesses over enforcement of metered parking locally, from recent opposition.

According to shop owner Barb Wolfe, who created parking signs about enforcement and distributed the signs to willing shop-owners in town, more people asked her for change to feed the meters on Saturday than any day since she opened her shop.

The sign tells shoppers to be sure their parking meter does not expire, as meters are enforced very aggressively. Wolfe thinks the signs effectively made people aware of the meters and pay the meters.

Several other businesses in town have put up the signs, as well.

The last meeting of Travel Berkeley Springs (TBS) reflected a similar attitude to parking enforcement, among local business people especially.

“What we have here in Berkeley Springs are attendants who are extremely unprofessional with the way they communicate to someone who has gone over time,” said business owner Wesley Lewis. “These people need some form of training in how they communicate in support of this community.”

Mayor Webster, who visited the TBS meeting after town council that same evening, said she would talk to the parking enforcement officers and town police about proper communication.

Beth Curtin of the Chamber of Commerce said that many meters don’t work well, and that being so aggressive in giving tickets was where many of the problems come from.

“When the general consensus is that the police force is not there to help you, it kind of makes for a bad environment,” said business owner Betsy Heath.

The town has not sat idle, however, as many fixes and repairs are already in the works.

At a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee, the idea of an all-day permit was discussed, according to Mayor Susan Webster.

The amount of time could vary between days and weeks with a clear expiration date. The committee would look into the length of time permit holders would have to pay.

In response to a request to change parking fines from $8 to $5, the committee found they could, but only by reducing the 30-day grace period to only five days.

More dropboxes to deposit tickets on the street are being ordered right away, and Webster said business owners can decide on the color they are painted.

The committee does not have authority to make decisions and must go before town council for any concrete changes.

New Meters

As the town has done in recent years, new parking meters are being purchased and installed to phase out the older and less functional meters already in place.

Between 12 and 15 meters, depending on cost, will be installed in the middle of town and branching outward. If bought brand new, the meters would be roughly $280 apiece, said Mayor Susan Webster.

However, talks with officials in Romney may save a little town funding with meters from a discontinued parking lot there. Those meters are fully digital and no more than two years old.

Many of the 60 meters installed last year came from the area around the capitol building in Charleston.

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