OLEAN – Some 200-plus parking meters have been removed from the city roadsides since Mayor Linda Witte took office four years ago. With a vote and a stroke of a pen, more will be coming out soon.
Resolutions were passed at last week’s regular meeting of the Common Council to remove more meters – and to establish a free parking period in the days leading up to Christmas. All passed unanimously.
The first resolution removes about 40 meters on South Street along Lincoln Park, located across State Street from the Municipal Building.
The second resolution calls for the removal of about another 15 meters along Hamilton Street, the right of way that leads from North Union Street to Barry Street, where a city-owned parking lot is situated.
Meter removal has been a hot topic in the Municipal Building.
“It is important that we start really taking a look at all of the meters in the city,” Ward 3 Alderman, Paul Gonzalez, said. “The meters don’t justify the cost of having them. The South Street meters are rarely used and make no sense.”
Ward 1 Alderman Gerard leFeber asked what was preventing the Council from simply taking out all of the meters in one fell swoop to more quickly make the process complete. Council President Ann McLaughlin (Ward 2) said all that was missing was a resolution.
“When we look at the cost and salary and benefits of the meters and the meter officer, we don’t get much more ahead,” Witte added to the discussion. “They are a real eyesore as well. We have one fixed, and then we immediately find at least one more that has been hit and pushed. If we were to remove them, we would make the area more consumer friendly. We should just take them all out. The cost of leaving them in doesn’t justify the inconvenience of having them.”
Ward 6 Alderman Nate Smith warned that doing something like taking the meters out all at once could lead to unintended problems and that city officials need to continue to take the meters out in chunks, each with some forethought.
“Things we can’t predict will happen, I promise,” he said.
A final resolution dealing with the meters, this one throughout the city, will have the meters closed for business from Dec. 16 to Dec. 25, as a gesture to bring people out to city businesses for their holiday shopping. All three resolutions passed the regular meeting of the Council unanimously.