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Parking changes stir debate

| Monday, May 14, 2012, 2:57 a.m.

Parking issues dominated the Mt. Pleasant Borough Council meeting Monday night, as one councilwoman's proposal to eliminate parking meters on one of the main thoroughfares raised concerns among other borough officials.

Councilwoman Phyllis Newell first proposed taking parking meters off Washington Street between Church and Hitchman streets at last month's meeting.

Newell claims many of the approximately 90 parking meters in that three-block area are not working and it would cost more than $13,500 to recondition them.

"I don't think we can afford that," Newell said, suggesting that the borough eliminate the meters for a period of three months to make sure people didn't take unfair advantage of the free parking.

Council President Mike Tabita voiced concern about a loss of revenue, not only from meter receipts, but also from parking tickets and the annual $5 parking permit fees paid by residents of the street.

Mayor Gerald Lucia also suggested Newell talk to members of the parking authority before council takes any action because the authority has several public parking lots in the area.

"The general public who uses the public lots would use Washington Street if it's free," Tabita said.

Addressing another parking problem, Councilman Steve Fontanazza reported that a safety issue involving a large box van often parked in the 200 block of Main Street still is unresolved.

"We talked to the owner of the vehicle and thought it was taken care of, but it actually is not," Fontanazza told council.

Because it is difficult for drivers to see beyond the van when pulling onto Main Street from North Shupe and North Silver streets, officials are concerned an accident is waiting to happen.

Police Chief Greg Smolka reported the van's owner paid parking tickets that were issued, so the only alternative appears to be adopting a new ordinance that would limit vehicles to only one parking space.

Council took no action, but will continue to review the situation.

Council will, however, advertise changes in an ordinance meant to prohibit parking in an alley parallel to Main Street between Church Street and Braddock Road Avenue.

It appears the original ordinance prohibiting parking used an incorrect name for the alley, referring to it as Coppula Way rather than Coppula Drive, thereby invalidating the ordinance.

There is some good news involving an unsightly construction site at Main and Diamond streets.

The owners of the site, Don Barlock and Michael Sheffler, contacted the borough to report they plan to renew their building permit and obtained a mortgage to construct a one-story structure. The developers hope to start work by spring, Sheffler told Solicitor Milton Munk.

Original plans called for a two-story building, but construction begun about two years ago was halted by a dispute between the property owners and the borough. The site remained undeveloped since, and borough officials are concerned about the partially constructed block walls.

Engineers looked at the site and while stopping short of saying there is an immediate danger, they reported "the potential for problems will become more imminent with the passage of time."

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