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Merchant Petitions Against Main Street Meters

The plan to install paid parking on Main Street remains on its delayed track.

More than 50 people have signed a petition to stop the implementation of a new parking meter program in Historic Ellicott City, according to the petition’s creator, but it is not clear what, if any effect that petition will have.

Sara Arditti, who owns the Still Life Gallery with her husband David Dempster, said she plans to attend Monday’s County Council work session to present the petition. 

On the work session agenda is Council Resolution 142, which sets new fees for some parking meters, including the fees for the new multi-space meters, which are set to be installed along Main Street later this year.

The resolution will raise meter fees from 25 to 50 cents per hour in two of the Historic District’s parking lots and set the fee for the new meters on Main Street and Maryland Avenue at $1 per hour.

County Executive Ken Ulman announced the meter project at a meeting on Aug. 21. Some merchants said they did not know about the project before it was announced, but according to county spokesperson Kevin Enright, “We have been working with the [Ellicott City Business Association] and [Ellicott City Restoration Foundation] for almost a year.”

ECBA President Dave Carne said that the Association discussed the plan at four or five meetings over the past year. The ECBA takes no official stance on the project, he said.

“The county came and asked us our opinion,” he said. “You’re not going to get a general consensus and the ECBA will not come out with an official stance because no one will ever agree," Carne said.

As a business owner, Carne, who owns The Wine Bin, said he deferred to a parking study done by Desman Associates (attached), which recommended installing paid meters along Main Street. 

The administration is aware of the petition, Enright said and "Will respond once we have seen it."

Since the County Council did not approve the project, it does not have the authority to stop it, but Arditti said she hopes if the council does not approve the fees for the new meters, the project can be blocked or delayed

“The most important thing people can do at this point is go to the work session,” Arditti said in an email, “And tell [the County Council] that we do not want any change in parking rates.” 

She said at a public hearing last week that what the Historic District needs is more parking, not paid parking.

The work session is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Mon., Sept. 24 in the George Howard Building.

Council member Courtney Watson, whose district includes Main Street, said last week, however, the meters can go in without council approval, "But approval is needed to set the rate charged by the meter.”

Public Works Director of Special Project Stephen Lafferty said the new meter rates would raise $170,000 for the rest of this fiscal year and $219,400 next year. The money would be used to pay for the parking meters, he said.

At last week's public hearing, Lafferty said that program would cost the county this year because of the capital investment and time lost because of the train derailment, but that in upcoming years, the fees from the meters should pay for the program. 

Even if the Council does not approve the new fee schedule, he said, “The project is moving forward … if they should reject [the new fees] we’ll just have to revisit how we’re going to pay for the program at this time.”

Related articles:

- Do You Want to See a Metered Main Street?

-

- What Do You Say About Parking?

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Ralphie September 25, 2012 at 07:01 AM
This county council has shown that petitions do little. What these merchants need to do is band together, collect some money, and make some hefty donations to the four (read majority) democrats on the council. Then they will be heard. Money talks with Courtney and Co.
josh mason September 25, 2012 at 06:36 PM
I live on main street, and I really don't have a problem with the meters. Look at any other shopping district in the area and the majority of them have paid parking, not only paid parking, but much more expensive parking. If people are coming to main street to dine or shop they are prepared to spend money. If they are not willing to spend a dollar or two to patronize the businesses on main street, then that indicates to me that there is a problem with what is being offered in town. Businesses in fells point or downtown annapolis don't struggle because of meters. If a parking garage is what is wanted, someone has to pay for it. It's sad, but I rarely see a crowded store in town, but all the storefront parking is taken. All that aside, the money has been spent on the equipment, the issue has been on the table for nearly a year, and all the protesting and petitioning in the world isn't going to change it. This opposition to meters now is really just too little too late.
Dan Jenkins September 25, 2012 at 08:05 PM
The issue has not been on the table for a year. It has been discussed in near-secret amongst a small cadre of like-minded folks. Efforts to include diverse opinions during that time were so glaringly absent that it looks like systematic exclusion rather than merely incompetent omission. Why does Ulman have the power to make such sweeping changes without Council oversight? And why was half a million dollars spent on purchasing meters when a sorely-needed parking lot repair project has been put off a year? When it is tumble-weeds on Main Street this holiday season, the importance of these questions will be all-too clear.
Timmy Kaye September 26, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Btw they had meters in town. They took them out because it hurt busniess. But hey...why learn from history...the. governments always right...right?
Timmy Kaye September 26, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Funny josh...sitting. here with a few folks who witnessed your opposition to the meters at the bench week. Flip flop much. Yeah that was you who was laughing at the fact dave had his own parking and supported meters. You compare old ec to annapolis and the inner harbor? They have garages at both...big ones...and they have actual tourist destinations other than a ten foot railroad museum. So ec has the sailong hall of fame and the naval academy and the inner harbor and water taxis the the ball games and the capitol and the sail boats and the skyline? Compare apple to oranges much? You don't have a car josh....so what's it matter to you? The bars here are the tourist attraction and all of us except for a small few oppose it.
Timmy Kaye September 26, 2012 at 07:25 AM
http://www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/publications/columbia-flier/ph-ho-cf-glances-free-parking-1124-20111121,0,621821.story according to uhlamn ten months ago free parking was good for the city josh...now its bad for the city?

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