Main Street parking still unresolved
By Katherine Porter
Ridgway, Pa. – The Ridgway Borough Council discussed various solutions for the Main Street parking situation during their regular meeting held Monday evening.
During a meeting of the street lighting, parking and traffic committee held Jan. 9, the committee recommended that signs be installed on Main Street posting two-hour parking limits to be posted from Broad Street to the V.F.W. on both sides of the street. The proposed signs would be funded by the Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Heritage Council. The committee also recommended that enforcement be decided upon at a later date.
The 60-day trial period for free parking along Main Street expired Jan. 17, and a decision has yet to be reached on a solution. During Monday evening's meeting, council members as well as Main Street manager Michelle Bogacki weighed in on the feasibility of enforcement as well as the installation of the signs versus refurbishing and continuing the use of the existing meters.
"This is creating another problem, a problem that doesn't really exist," said borough manager Kim Zimmerman, in reference to the committee's recommendation. Zimmerman added that the responsibility of enforcement is required by neither the borough or the Ridgway Police Department, and the installation of the signs could raise issues for both groups.
"In order to put those signs up and put a $25 fine on there, it's got to go through the codes," Zimmerman said.
The increase of the fines for parking tickets from its past rate of $3 to a rate of $25 was widely supported, due to the fact that the increased cost to violators will further dissuade them from violating time limits.
Solicitor David Pontzer also added that once an ordinance is passed, then the borough would be required to enforce it.
"If we're not going to do the signage, then we should look back at the meters," Bogacki said. "The meter is an enforcement tool. It's there, it's in place and I really honestly think we're going to go back to my original statement: "We need to control the movement of Main Street in some capacity."
The issues for Main Street parking are reportedly stemming from complaints by business owners concerning people parking for prolonged periods of time outside their establishments, which leads back to the main issue of parking enforcement.
"The retailer does not own that parking space," Bogacki said. "They can go outside and say 'OK, please do not park in front of my store,' if it's the adjacent retailer, but the retailer can certainly not enforce a public parking stall."
Councilman Sam MacDonald, in discussing the problem of broken meters, suggested the use of some of the meters recently removed from Center Street to replace the non-working meters along Main Street, which is currently no less than eight of them.
However, at the close of the meeting, no solution had been reached, although borough officials plan to continue research into the feasibility and problems with both the installation of signs as well as the return of the parking meters.
Also, borough officials are still making headway in their quest to tear down derelict and condemned houses throughout the borough. 302 Clarion St., a recent acquisition of the borough is set to be razed in the coming months. However, the borough has offered the Ridgway Volunteer Fire Department the opportunity to use the home for training purposes first, including instruction in cutting holes in walls for rescue purposes as well as the knocking down of doors and other training activities.
Zimmerman, along with other council members, has plans to attend a meeting with the Elk County Commissioners on Jan. 27 which will cover the changes to their policy regarding taxing bodies' right to purchase homes from the county repository.
Following the Jan. 27 meeting, the borough will continue their attempt to buy five more homes currently in the repository with the intention of razing them.
Zimmerman also reported on the status of delinquent taxes within the borough.
Currently, the borough is owed $83,000 in per capita tax revenue as well as $55,000 in real estate taxes.
Spanning from the years of 2002 to 2012 the borough is owed $252,000 in per capita tax as well as $115,000 in real estate taxes. The numbers are reportedly not 100 percent accurate due to some of the delinquent tax money being owed by people who have since become deceased.
"We've got to get this fixed; this is not good," Zimmerman said as some of the delinquent taxes are owed by borough employees.
If the delinquent monies were to be recovered, it could cover somewhere in the range of a five mill tax increase.
Additionally, several borough residents from the North Maple Street area attended the meeting in order to voice their opinions on the recently-approved senior living village near Ridgmont, which was given the green light during a recent Ridgway Township Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Residents of the area are concerned about the proposed entrance to the village, which is set to branch from North Maple Street.
"We're hearing a lot of mixed things about what's going on, what the township is trying to do," said North Maple Street resident Mike Johnson.
TREK Development Group originally stated that they would like to see two entrances to the development, one being the current entrance to Ridgmont along Montmorenci Road and the other being North Maple Street. However, the Zoning Hearing Board approved TREK's request with the stipulation that North Maple not be used as an entrance for construction and maintenance vehicles during construction.
However, the board did not state that once construction is complete that residents living in the new development could not use North Maple Street as an entrance to the village.
"We're very concerned about this for our community that's on the other side, just inside the borough," Johnson said.
Zimmerman, who has recently been briefed on the project stated that TREK reported that they did not intend to use North Maple Street as an entrance.
"They don't want to use it as an entrance, exit, emergency entrance, nothing," Zimmerman said of the most recent information shared with the borough.
The public is invited to attend a meeting with the head surveyor for the project and the Ridgway Borough Council, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the borough building, located at 108 Main St., and will discuss the plans and progress for the development.