Aldermen are in total disagreement over St. Louis Street parking rules.
During a 20-minute debate at the March 5 board meeting, aldermen argued about whether or not to limit parking on St. Louis Street from First to Third streets to two hours.
Some businesses on St. Louis Street claim the limited parking is necessary to the future of their business while other businesses say they want unlimited parking.
Only Alderman Ed Gass was willing to compromise, but his motion to accommodate more than one business on the street never got a second.
Brad Reed, who operates Reed Insurance at 100 W. St. Louis St., was in agreement with Gass, but abstained on the issue after making a presentation about parking in front of his business.
Reed said aldermen had already approved time-limit parking in two places.
Fifteen-minute parking is in place for customers of Straatmann Printing on South First Street.
In 2006, aldermen approved 30-minute parking during evening hours in front of Rent ‘N’ Go Video and Curves for Women at 134 and 136 W. St. Louis, now occupied by Kaleidoscope Consignment Shop.
“People have said ‘It’s not fair some businesses have their own parking lot,’ but we paid for our parking lot,” Reed said. “This was not a gift of the city or from other business owners.
“In 1986 my parents bought the building at 104 W. St. Louis St., paid to have it remodeled,” he explained. “In 1997, we paid for a major improvement project to the building that included the sidewalk and the curb and gutter in front of our property.
“On three different occasions we have addressed different business owners and asked them to consider our business and our business customers,” Reed said. “I am tired of having to go and beg my neighbors to consider my business needs, these signs eliminate that problem.”
Nancy Omer, who operates Omer & Associates accounting and tax services at 107 W. St. Louis, told aldermen that for safety reasons she and her employees need to be able to park on the street all day. She doesn’t want to leave her business after dark and walk a long distance to her car.
April Aubuchon, who operates Kaleidoscope Consignment Shop, 134 and 136 W. St. Louis, doesn’t want owners and employees of other businesses to park in front of her business all day. She says parking spaces are needed for customers and clients who bring items for resale.
“If people don’t find a parking space they go somewhere else,” Aubuchon said.
Alderman Mike Bates said he talked with businesses on St. Louis Street and the majority did not want the two-hour parking. He also said one rule should be applied to the entire street, with no exceptions.
Alderman Mike Pigg agreed that there should be no objections now.
“Ed Gass wants to carve it up,” Pigg said. “We should leave it all the same and after three months if we need to we can carve it up.”
Ron Sansone, who operates Pacific Antique Mall, 125 N. First St., and Sansone Construction, 119 N. First St., said he owns 11 downtown buildings that house six businesses and no one on the board of aldermen had talked to him about downtown parking, but talking is what is needed before any decision is made on the signs.
Sansone urged aldermen to take more time to consider the issue, have more discussion and a clearer understanding of the needs of everyone concerned before aldermen take action.
“We need to have a lot more talk about this,” Sansone said.
The standoff was triggered when one alderman was challenged for parking all day on the street when there was a two-hour parking ordinance on the books.
Austin Myers, Catawissa, challenged the city for placing “No Ballpark Parking,” signs on South Fifth Street that prohibit persons attending games at the PYA fields from parking. He called the parking rules discriminatory, which prompted aldermen to vote to “list” the signs on the street-sign register. The signs were covered with black plastic, which was uncovered after aldermen acted.
Myers singled out Alderman Jerry Eversmeyer for parking in front of Midwest Personnel, 140 W. St. Louis St., where he works even though there was an ordinance limiting parking on the street to two hours.
The two-hour parking ban had been in effect for more than 30 years. Signs were taken down when St. Louis Street was rebuilt in 2008 and were not put back up until Myers called the city’s attention to the ordinance.
Following Myers’ protest, Mayor Herb Adams put the signs back up. He urged aldermen to “let sleeping dogs lie” and not over-legislate parking on the street.
“This needs to work itself out on its own,” Adams said.
Gass made a motion to leave the two-hour parking signs up in front of Bank of America, Reed Insurance and Kaleidoscope Consignment.
When Police Chief Matt Mansell said he had spoken to someone inside the bank who said the bank didn’t need two-hour parking, Gass amended his motion to the half block on West St. Louis Street from First Street to past 136 West.
With no second, the motion died and aldermen voted 4 to 1 to eliminate all time limits on parking on the street. Gass voted no and Reed abstained.