Westminster officials, hoping to remedy parking problems at the city's Sherwood Lot, are considering installing parking meters at the downtown site.
The measure is being prompted by business owners, who have complained about downtown workers abusing the free two-hour parking limit in the Sherwood Lot. To avoid parking tickets, many workers move their cars every two hours, leaving no parking available for customers, the owners said.
The City Council is expected to introduce a resolution authorizing the installation of meters at the Sherwood Lot at its Aug. 12 meeting. The council is expected to approve the measure later this month.
"We've received many complaints from business owners that people use the lot for long-term parking. They park there the whole day or move cars from space to space," said Thomas Beyard, the city's director of Planning and Public Works.
"It's created a conflict. The situation isn't new, but we're finally doing something about it," he added.
Jessica DeCesare, head of the Downtown Business Association and owner of a soon-to-open restaurant on Main Street, endorsed the parking meter proposal.
"That lot is abused by people who have offices in the area. All the people filling up the parking lot are not shopping downtown," she said.
The Sherwood Lot, which is behind Winchester Exchange, an office and retail complex at Main Street and Railroad Avenue, is the city's only lot used to full capacity, Westminster officials said.
"There are, I believe, sufficient spaces overall as of today to satisfy everyone's needs, but the distribution of spaces sometimes needs to be modified for the common good. That's what we're trying to do here," Mayor Kenneth Yowan said.
With the council's endorsement, the meters could be installed in late September or early October. The project is expected to cost about $10,000, city officials said.
Installing about 100 parking meters at the Sherwood Lot would be a first step in the city's efforts to address overall parking problems. The city's Capital Improvement Plan calls for construction of a downtown parking deck and money generated from the new meters would be used to pay for that project.
Two sites are being considered for the deck. The Sherwood and Longwell lots will be evaluated as sites and further details will be released in the fall.
Tim Bryson, owner of Locust Books in Winchester Exchange, said meters would be "a step in the right direction."
"The parking spaces that are closest to the businesses that have a pretty high turnover really should be used by clients and customers rather than employees," said Bryson, who walks to work from his home in town.
Some business officials said the meters would be welcomed by customers and employees, who are tired of the hassles of a two-hour parking limit.
"Customers come in here to take their time, eat and chat and have to get up real fast, worried that they're going to get a ticket," said Lee Cox, assistant manager of Sam's Bagels.
He said his employees received six $25 parking tickets last month.
"When you get a parking ticket at work, you pay more for the ticket than you make that day," said David Hoggler, a bagel shop employee.
Pub Date: 8/05/96