Thursday, October 25, 2012

Free Parking Approved for the Holiday Season

By Christina Georgiou

While the rates for metered parking may rise for 2013, most holiday shoppers won't have to pay anything at all to park in Downtown Easton on weekend during the holiday season.

Easton City Council members unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday evening that calls for meters to be bagged on Black Friday, and on Saturdays and Sundays thereafter through December.

"We don't actually need Sundays since we don't charge on Sundays," Councilwoman El Warner pointed out.

"We could have an ordinance that provides for Sunday parking before the end of the year," said City Administrator Glenn Steckman.

"We're not going to though," Warner replied.

Downtown parking last year was also free at most locations, with ribbons and a message on the meters that stayed up for the season, but city officials say bagging designated meters is a better option.

"Last year we put ribbons on the meters and people still plugged the meters (with money) so we went to bags this year," said Mayor Sal Panto, adding, "People would see 'free' and get ticketed on weekdays."

A parking enforcement officer will be assigned the duty of bagging and unbagging the meters late on Fridays and early on Mondays.

"Volunteers were suggested, but there could be problems with that," Steckman said.

While the approved measure doesn't state specifically which metered parking areas will be gratis, officials said the areas will include all three Downtown parking lots, Northampton Street from Green Street to Sixth Street and streetside metered parking from Second to Fourth streets and Spring Garden to Ferry streets. Additionally, South Third Street meters beyond Ferry Street will likely be free too.

"It's got to be fair and consistent (to Downtown shops)," Panto said. "Monarch's has been there for 100 years."

The city will likely lose some revenue on the move since no one will be putting change in the bagged devices as they have in past years despite they're being free, but the loss is worth it, Steckman said.

He added that during the period that meters are bagged, the city will also not be enforcing the posted two-hour time limits as strictly so shoppers can take their time in stores and restaurants.

"We wanted to partner with Main Street on this," Steckman said.

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