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Group looking to eliminate parking meters in Monessen

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 8:16 p.m.
Chris Buckley
Ron Mozer, owner of Crystalline Technologies, stands in front of a digitial sign annoucing a street clean up for Saturday, May 18. The clean up is the initial project for the Monessen Busienss Owners group that Mozer has started.

Ron Mozer hopes to improve the business climate in Monessen.

Those who attended the initial Monessen Business Owners meeting had an overwhelming starting point – eliminate parking meters downtown.

Ron Mozer, owner of Crystalline Technologies, organized the meeting to gauge the needs of his fellow business owners. His company, located at Eastgate 11, does satellite telemetry for the oil and gas industry, with customers from New York to Tennessee as well as overseas.

Nine business leaders attended, discussing dilapidated buildings in the downtown and cleaning up trash from city streets.

Mozer issued an open invitation to business owners and residents to join in a street cleanup along Tyrol Boulevard, State Street and the intersection of Tyrol and Grand boulevards. Those participating will meet 8 a.m. Saturday at Eastgate 11.

“Those are the most visible streets in the city and in serious need of cleanup,” Mozer said.

At noon, Mozer is hosting a picnic at the boat ramp and will be doing the cooking for those who participate. City police will assist with traffic control during the cleanup and the street department will erect signs warning motorists to slow down during the cleanup.

But parking meters were the biggest issue discussed.

“Every business owner who I spoke with said parking meters are a detriment to business,” Mozer said.

“If you go to get a haircut, you have to put money in the meter. If you stop to eat, you have to put money in the meter.”

Gerald Saksun, owner of the Torn Page, said parking meters have a negative effect on his business.

“I have lost 15 to 20 customers because when they come in here, they are in here 2 to 3 minutes and when they go back, they have a ticket on their car,” Saksun said. “I have offered to pay it. They say ‘no thanks, but I'm not coming back.'” When Saksun served on city council, the issue was addressed.

“We considered two-hour free parking,” Saksun said. “We were supposed to meet with Waynesburg officials. But that never happened. I broached the issue three or four times.”

Waynesburg eliminated parking meters several years ago.

Saksun said he felt the issue was not being addressed by his peers. He cited that as a reason why he chose not to seek re-election.

Saksun, a former city controller, said he has advocated for years the removal of parking meters.

He favors parking permits, but is concerned that the meters scare customers away.

City Administrator John Harhai acknowledged that parking meter revenues and expenses effectively break even.

Mozer said he has reached out to city officials, including Harhai and Mayor Mary Jo Smith. They have had some discussions about how to improve the downtown business district.

He also reached out to the Monessen Chamber of Commerce, but expressed disappointment that he has had no response from the chamber.

Chamber President Gary Boatman did not return phone calls or respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

“I believe in Monessen,” Mozer said. “I believe it can work. We just need some action.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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