HONESDALE—Borough parking was a prime topic of discussion during public comment period at the January 15 Honesdale Borough meeting.
Residents Cheryl Celeskey and Gwen Ashby Abromovitz came before the borough to voice their concerns for residential parking permit fees.
Celeskey, speaking first, noted she has purchased two permits for her West Street residence, “... but I believe the policy for parking permits on West Street should be reviewed.”
She noted her concern lay not with the idea of issuing permits, “... but rather with treating West Street with the same category as the highly commercially rich Court and Church streets.”
Celeskey raised concerns with stipulations two, three, concerning the registry of one vehicle per application and a the duty of the resident to notify the borough should the registered vehicle be replaced.
She stated since that portion of town is primarily residential, “It would be historically consistent for the parking spaces to be linked to a specific residential line rather than a specific vehicle.”
She also voiced concern about stipulation five, noting that while she understands spots cannot be guaranteed, “I do not understand why someone else should be granted a permit that supersedes my right to a clear view of the street in front of my house or that potentially allows them to ding my curbstones or trample my treeline while I may have to roam the street to find a spot.”
Following Celeskey, Abromovitz stated, “For the past several years I have been given a permit by the borough at no cost so I could park my car ...in front of my house without receiving a ticket.”
She explained that while she normally parks in her garage, such street parking is necessary on occasion when work is being done which would prevent this.
At the prospect of now being charged to do so, Abromovitz stated she would rather spend that money on the town's various community activities than simply to park in front of her house.
Celeskey had also issued an official request to be exempt from the 2018 parking fee which the borough addressed later that night.
The request was unanimously denied.
Council President Michael Augello stated that parts of West Street are commercial, so it cannot receive special dispensation as that would be unfair to other residents.
“I think the policy that we have in place right now … seems to be as fair as it can be.”
Later that evening, Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rich Doney noted that 650 parking meters in the borough had been converted over to accept quarters only as a result of recent revisions made to Chapter 195 of the borough code.
The conversions took place on Monday and Tuesday, January 8 and 9.
A piece of correspondence was submitted by Councilor Robert Jennings on behalf of citizen Nancy Swingle in which Swingle noted that she felt the change was not properly advertised.
She explained several members of St. John's Lutheran Church were ticketed on Tuesday January 9 as a result of the change because they were unaware it had taken place.
Her letter, read into correspondence, stated after accepting quarters, dimes and nickles, for so long, “No one knew the meters were changed. You may say 'Well it says on the meters, Quarters only.' Who knew? We have been used to 0.25, 0.10, and 0.05 for years. No one checks every time to see if there's anything different.”
The letter further stated that if word had be given in print or radio, they might have avoided the tickets.
She asked that the borough refund each of the ticketed churchgoers.
Augello stated the discussion for the changeover had been public for months, and it should have been better advertised, but was lost amid the recent fluctuations in council.
The parking department issued a response to the request, noting that there were 65 tickets issued that day.
It further recommended that if the borough refunded those requested in the letter, the should do so for all those ticketed, 34 of which had paid already by the time of the meeting.
Council agreed it should be all or none and marked the letter received and took no further action.
The Parking Committee report noted an increase in revenue from parking meters in the borough.
“I'm just surprised that parking tickets have not … really shown any huge increase. What has changed dramatically is the meter collection,” said President Michael Augello, noting that since the crackdown on meter enforcement, visitors and residents to the borough have increased their proclivity to pay the meter when parking.
“People are actually putting money in meters at a much higher rate than we've ever seen before.”
Augello noted ticket issuance has remained consistent with past figures, but the increased meter collection represents a slight bump in revenue for the borough.