Havre de Grace Council approves one-way end on Erie Street

The Havre de Grace City Council held a public hearing as part of its regular meeting Monday night on an ordinance that would increase parking fines in the city while not creating any new types of violations.

The hearing sparked comment from an owner of a Union Avenue business, who also happens to be the husband of the newest council member.

George Wagner, co-owner of Bahoukas Antique Mall with his wife, City Councilwoman Barbara Wagner, spoke during the public hearing, as he did at the last meeting. George Wagner asked the council to get rid of two and three hour parking signs and enforce the parking issues "that should be enforced," such as wrong way parking and parking on sidewalks – both of which that are included in the new ordinance at $25 and $100 respectively.

"There is no parking problem in this town," he said. "It's a parking of convenience problem."

Fines under the proposed new law would range from $25 for parking on a sidewalk to $50 for parking in a fire lane and to $125 for illegally parking in a handicapped spot. One fine, at $100, is also for imitation of signs, signals, which Havre de Grace City Councilman Fred Cullum clarified meant that violators could be fined for placing a sign on a city street.

Planning Director Neal Mills said at the meeting that he was investigating 26 signs that City Councilman James Miller brought to his attention. During his report later in the meeting, Miller expressed frustration that he and the citizens, who Miller said were too afraid to contact directors directly, had to bring such issues to Mills.

"I shouldn't have to report any of this to you," Miller said. "One of your employees should be reporting this to you."

Miller also said that, in terms of signs, some signs were being removed and others were not, which he called "selective enforcement."

At the end of the meeting, before public comment, Mayor Wayne Dougherty defended his directors, saying they were doing the best they could and dealt with a multitude of complaints in very hectic offices.

"I assure you, there is no time for selective enforcement," he said.

The same way for Erie

The Havre de Grace City Council passed a resolution during Monday night's meeting that the traffic pattern on Erie Street will remain unchanged since it was made one-way a few years ago when renovations began on the nearby Hatem Bridge on Route 40. The resolution keeps that portion of Eris Street one way from Route 40 to Juniata Street. The resolution will turn the "western most portion" of the 800 Block of Erie Street into a one-way street, preventing drivers from traveling from Juniata Street to Route 40 before repairs began on the bridge. That block of Erie Street was a well-known short cut for some of those crossing the Susquehanna River via the Hatem Bridge from Havre de Grace to Perryille. Councilman Fred Cullum voted against this measure, after his amendment failed.

Cullum introduced an amendment earlier that would make the entire block a one-way street from Route 40, in keeping with the results of a survey sent out to residents where 21 of 28 responded, and 14 of those 21 requested a one-way road.

This, however, could cause complications City Council President William Martin said, with residents of that portion of Erie Street required to take Ostego Street to Route 40 in order to go home.

"[It's] not in anyone's best interest to get on Route 40 to get home," he said.

Another concern was brought up by Councilman Randolph Craig, who questioned the wording of "western most portion," which City Attorney Paul Ishak said would be at the police department's or Department of Public Works' discretion when installing one-way signs.

Decoy Decking

The City Council also approved a budget amendment to transfer $10,000 from the Real Property Taxes account to the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, in order to fund the remaining portion of a project to renovate and repair the second floor deck.

Earlier in the evening, Patrick Vincenti, representing the Decoy Museum, told the council they had raised $40,000 for the $50,000 project to renovate and repair the second floor deck and needed $10,000 more to fund the project.

"It's everything we need to renovate the deck and everything that's also in the project," Vincenti said, adding later that it include the deck, railings, joists, a new vent in the elevator shaft and more.

Other Business

- Robert Greene was appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission and William Jiles was reappointed to the Ethics Commission.

- Police Chief Teresa Walter promoted National Night Out, which is Tuesday, August 2 from 7 to 9 p.m., when neighbors turn on their porch lights and get together to "take a stand against crime," she said, and "promote neighborhood unity."

- Dougherty announced three openings on City committees including an alternate member opening for the Planning Commission, an alternate member position on the Board of Appeals and a full member opening on the Board of Election Supervisors.

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