City Council took public input last week on a proposal to create three permit parking zones in the downtown, but couldn't agree on the specifics of the plan. Therefore, the council members agreed to table the issue and vote on it at a later date.

City Council took public input last week on a proposal to create three permit parking zones in the downtown, but couldn't agree on the specifics of the plan. Therefore, the council members agreed to table the issue and vote on it at a later date.
Council held a public hearing on the issue prior to its regular meeting on Monday night, May 20, and heard from about a dozen business owners and residents.
The proposed ordinance, which was introduced by Mayor Justin Taylor, would create the permit parking zones on South Main St. (between 7th and 8th avenues), along the park side of O'Malley Way (where the Shops On Park Place are located), and lower Salem Ave. (between North Main St. and River Street).
During the hearing, Nellie Connolly said she supports the permit parking plan, explaining that she likes the concept of creating the three zones on the north side, south side and middle district of the downtown. She said it will be a help to her on O'Malley Way, where her business Personellized Cakes is located.
Referring to the two permit parking areas currently available downtown, she stated, "It's not convenient for me to park behind City Hall or at the train station."
Darlene Ferraro-Ploch, owner of Heritage House On the Park, said she requires a placard or sticker of some kind to give to her hotel guests so they can use her parking space during their stay at her hotel.
However, Taylor noted "that's not how the ordinance is written."
"That's never come up in any of our discussions, to provide a placard or sticker which can be passed from vehicle to vehicle," he told the council members.
Lagana pointed out that all of the downtown business owners want their own parking spots to use however they would like, but he said it's just not feasible.
"If we do that, we might as well get rid of the meters," he offered.
Connolly said she, too, would favor a placard/sticker plan, stating that it would help with deliveries at her business for loading and unloading.
"That's not what the law says," Taylor reiterated. "But if council wants to change the ordinance or give me administrative authority [to allow it], then that's something they can do."
Councilman Dr. Joseph Marzzacco suggested that implementing a system similar to that of handicapped parking might work. He related that "anywhere there's handicapped parking in town, anyone with a placard can park there," and he said the same could be done with permit parking.
In a related matter, some merchants said they expected to be automatically approved for the permit parking spaces closest to their businesses, but Taylor said it won't work that way.
"No one will be guaranteed spots or given preferential treatment to get them," he insisted.
Taylor stated that, under his plan, the permit parking spots in these three zones would be available — on a first-come, first-served basis — to downtown business owners as well as residents who live in the downtown area.
Councilman Gerald Arnese agreed, explaining, "If we give special treatment to the shops along O'Malley Way, then we'll have businesses all through town expecting us to do the same for them."
Taylor told the NEWS that he does not support the handicapped parking system proposed by Marzzacco.
"Personally, I would not favor a 'park anywhere' plan because I don't think it helps anybody," he related. "I still feel it's a convenience to park in front of your location, and that's something you should have to pay for — in one way or another."
Taylor said he has floated the idea of a convenience parking pass for $60 a month, as implemented in other municipalities, but downtown business owners have called that "outrageous."
"We can't even get the Park Place shop owners to pay $30 for permit parking at City Hall, and that's basically right across the street from where they're located, so you can't get much closer than that," he pointed out. "And we can't charge $20 a month or everyone will buy a permit and we'll be back to where we were before we put the meters in, when you couldn't find anywhere at all to park."
"I still think that permit parking on the north side, south side and middle district is the most logical plan of all — but at this point, I'm not really sure what's going to happen next," Taylor added.
During the regular meeting that followed the public hearing, council voted to table the permit parking proposal. Marzzacco said there were too many "substantive changes" that had to be made to the ordinance before council could vote on it.
"There's too many things it it [to be addressed]," he offered.
Councilman Walter Martzen concurred, stating, "We need to have a meeting."
Taylor said he will meet with council members in executive session on May 29 to try to reach some agreement on the details of a downtown parking plan, then council will vote on a final ordinance at a future meeting.