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City nixes plan to expand metered parking on Hertel

City Hall is scrapping its plan for more and longer metered parking on Hertel Avenue.

“The city pushed the reset button on the parking changes,” Delaware Councilman Joel P. Feroleto said Monday. “What is currently in place will remain in place.”

If Hertel Avenue business owners have other suggestions for ways to address parking issues on the business strip, the city is open to their ideas, Feroleto said.

Feroleto and city parking commissioner Kevin Helfer earlier this month detailed new parking meter plans city officials said would encourage more turnover on the busy Hertel Avenue business strip.

The plan had called for installing two-hour parking meters in two city-owned lots where parking is now free, and extending metered street parking – now in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – until 9 p.m.

As part of the plan, most metered parking would retain the two-hour maximum, except for an area in front and on either side of the North Park Theatre, where there would be a three-hour maximum.

Feroleto said the plan had been worked out with the Hertel Business Association, which endorsed the plan.

But as it turned out, while the association supported the plan, a majority of Hertel Avenue businesses didn’t.

Most, in fact, didn’t know about the plan until reading in The Buffalo News that it would be implemented in September, several business owners said.

The new rules will deter people from coming to Hertel to eat and shop, and make it more difficult for business owners and employees to park as well, according to a petition business owners distributed in response to the new rules.

“We need to make it easier for people to visit the Hertel strip and patronize our businesses, not harder,” states the petition.

Among those opposing the new rules was Thomas J. Eoannou, who owns several Hertel Avenue properties, including the North Park.

“It would be impossible to have dinner and go to a movie without having to move your car, or get a $45 ticket,” Eoannou said. “It was ill-conceived.”

Gregory J. Link, owner of Cone Five Pottery on Hertel Avenue, agreed. People attending his evening pottery classes would be forced to leave in the middle of class to return to their car, he said.

“You come to Hertel to sign up for classes, and they are 2½ hours long,” Link said. “In two hours you’d have to leave to find another parking spot.”

It’s particularly problematic, Link said, because the new pay station meters on Hertel won’t let the same credit card be used to pay for a second two-hour stay in the same parking spot.

Eoannou and Link were among the business owners at a Hertel Business Association meeting last week when the issue was discussed. Feroleto and Helfer also attended the meeting.

It was following that session, and additional conversations Feroleto had with business owners, that the councilman and Helfer said the new rules would not be implemented.

“After speaking with a majority of businesses, they don’t want to see these changes, and we support the majority of the businesses on the street,” Feroleto said.

Also, Helfer said if the two-hour maximum during day-time hours is a problem, the business community can ask the city for a three-hour limit.

Susan Tobin resigned as executive director of the Hertel Business Association following that meeting.

In an email to other Hertel Business Association members, Tobin wrote she was resigning because of the way some opponents of the new rules acted during the meeting.

Tobin was not immediately available for comment Monday, but in her email, she wrote: “I have no problem with those who had strong opinions, which differed from my own. Tobin wrote. “However, the name-calling, personal attacks and a total lack of respect to let everyone in the room speak in turn was unnecessary and uncalled for,” she wrote.

Link disputed Tobin’s characterization of the meeting.

Tobin also expressed disappointment that Hertel Avenue won’t be getting some of the financial benefits planned if the new parking system had been adopted.

The city estimated the expanded meter system would bring in an extra $150,000 to $200,000 annually.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com

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