Paying for parking; some people feel like it’s just money down the drain. But, one community is going as far as saying that metered parking is hurting local businesses.
With 210 meters in the area, parking is relatively cheap in North East. It’s only a quarter for every 30 minutes and, if you get a ticket, it’s just $10. But, local business owners are saying it’s less about the cost of parking and more about the hassle of paying the meters.
Lori Ion, Owner of Serendipity Consignment Boutique, just celebrated her fifth year in business. The Washington, DC native and her husband have no ties to the area. They were just passing through when driving home from a trip to Canada, fell in love, and ended up moving here.
Ion says North East now feels like home. “Many times people come in because they want to chat. You know, they’re having a bad day, it’s a feel-good shop. So, we have a lot of fun doing that… I’ve met a lot of people and have a lot of great friends.”
She says her fellow downtown local business owners all have a similar goal; getting people into the area to spend the whole day shopping small, which she claims is difficult because of metered parking.
The cost of parking, just 25 cents, but some business owners are saying their complaints have less to do with the cost of parking, more to do with the fact that their customers have to continually feed the meters.
Ion tells us, “I always keep quarters in the shop. I take quarters, I find their car, I put time on the meter for them so they can continue to shop. But I do hear many people, that you know, ‘I gotta go, I’m just stopping in, my meters about to run out,’ so it does hinder business, it does.”
Lori says she’s an advocate for getting rid of the meters, something that the North East Council is considering.
Pat Gehrlein, Borough Manager, tells us, “We need people to come out to our meetings, we need people to support – even in opposition – certain things that are going on. We want to hear from them and we need, and respect, their opinions.”
The price in parking and ticketing hasn’t changed since 2016, but council recently brought the topic up in a meeting in order to get public input.
Additionally, with 68 ordinances that pertain to parking and downtown street operations of vehicles, they decided it’s time to simplify things.
Gehrlein says, “We’re really trying to encourage the individuals to come to North East to spend your time, to spend your hard earned dollars in the downtown businesses.”
In the council meeting, coming up on November 5th, it will be decided whether they’ll move forward with a resolution or an ordinance change for the meters.
The North East Borough Manager is telling us that, no matter what, the meters will be bagged for a month around the holiday season, making holiday shopping easier for residents and visitors.