Oil City Parking Authority Looking for Ways to Overcome Short-Term Obstacles

| August 11, 2017

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – The Oil City Parking Authority made three recommendations to the Oil City Council to help alleviate short-term obstacles the Authority recently identified.

See relate story: Oil City Council Addresses Water Bill Proposal/Acquired Properties at Meeting

After 12 months worth of meetings, the Parking Authority identified three short-term obstacles the city faces and proposed solutions to each in a letter sent to the council and addressed at Thursday’s regular council meeting.

The first obstacle identified was the amount of work for the city’s part-time parking enforcement officer with just 25 hours per week to get it done.

“The Parking Enforcement Officer is responsible for the maintenance and repair of street and lot parking meters, certification of all existing meters and street enforcement city-wide, all within 25 hours per week,” the letter signed by Parking Authority Chairman Flavius Galiber Jr., said.

The Parking Authority recommended exploring options to increase the Parking Enforcement Officer’s hours so that she can “catch up with the backlog of meter repairs, certifications, and replacements.”

Galiber, who was at the meeting, then addressed council about the issue also recommending that the council take a look at local resources available to help ease the burden on the Parking Enforcement Officer.

“We might consider ordaining parking committee members and possibly even council members as enforcement officers so they can enforce (the regulations) while the Parking Enforcement Officer works on the meters,” Galiber said.

Police Chief Robert Wenner said part of the issue with the Parking Enforcement Officer job is that when the job went from a full-time job to a part-time job a second Parking Enforcement Officer was going to be hired.

“We have never been able to find one,” Wenner said. “Honestly, the one we have is probably the best one we have ever had.”

Wenner said the city has to be careful about increasing the hours of the officer because if it extends beyond 30 hours per week then the city becomes responsible for medical and other costs. He did say that some of his officers will be doing some ticketing to lighten the load on the Parking Enforcement Officer.

The second short-term obstacle identified by the Authority was the acquisition and installation of new budgeted parking meters. The Authority recommended expediting the acquisition and installation of the new meters.

Wenner said the new meters should have already been installed a month or two ago but the company the meters were purchased from ran into a problem with a supplier of one of the computer parts for the meters.

“We looked into other companies to buy the meters from, but the costs were much more expensive,” Wenner said. “But hopefully, we should have the meters installed in the next couple of weeks.”

The third short-term obstacle identified by the Authority was that current parking congestion is caused primarily by parking permit holders and business owners who choose to occupy street parking spaces for longer than two hours.

The Authority suggested instructing the Parking Enforcement Officer to “better enforce” the two-hour parking regulation for street parking.

“By doing so, people who occupy street spaces for longer than two hours will be forced to move their vehicle to another vacant meter or be fined,” the letter stated. “Refeeding the same meter will not be an option. Fines apply. This will encourage better utilization of the downtown long-term parking lots and free up more street spaces for people doing business needing less than two hours.”

Galiber noted to the council this could be an issue because there is nothing in the current city parking ordinance that says a person has to move a vehicle after two hours.

“Feeding meters impacts others from coming in,” Galiber said. “If we can do that (enforce the two hours) business will see more business.”

Wenner noted that his officer can take pictures of the cars that are parked to determine if they have been parked for more than two hours. But at the same time, he doesn’t want to be seen as “Parking Nazis”.

“We try to work with people as much as we can,” Wenner said. “We even try to work out payment options with people. If they communicate with us, we try to work with them.”

Galiber also noted that the city is losing money – he estimated it to be around $850 a year – from broken meters especially in a lot on the South Side where the first spaces that fill up are the ones with the broken meters.

The letter from the Parking Authority also noted some observations after the 12 months of meetings including:

  • Despite the public and private complaints to the contrary, parking in Oil City is fairly good except for specific areas at certain times.
  • Parking meters are in reasonable condition with the exception of some broken and outdated meters currently being addressed by the police department.
  • Parking enforcement is better now than in the past with areas of improvement.
  • Parking revenues are up despite the temporary downturn in the local economy.

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