People voice frustrations at Harrisburg parking meeting

Ashia Richardson is the owner of Hair at the Square, in Strawberry Square. Richardson says new parking fines and upcoming rate changes are taking away her business and tips. “We can’t get tips because they can’t afford to do that, and pay for parking and their service. They’re going elsewhere, out into the city and in the other parts where there aren’t meters,” said Richardson as she stood at a microphone in front of Park Harrisburg Committee Members.

The owner of the restaurant Mangia Qui is concerned about her employees. “With the rate increases you’re asking employees, lunch servers in particular, to pay $24.00 on average to work their shift, when they usually make $40.00 on average. It’s just cost prohibitive, it’s ridiculous. What I came up with is some type of employee discount with a garage or something,” said Staci Basore, owner of Mangia Qui.

A number of people stood up at the public meeting in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Harrisburg and agreed changes need to be made for the city, but disagreed with how it’s being done. “We appreciate the need of the city to raise revenue, we understand the rationale behind the leasing agreements and those items, but it’s important we share with you our feelings that a lot of these changes are counterproductive to building a sense of community in Harrisburg,” said Pastor of Pine Street Presbyterian Church, Russell Sullivan.

“A charge for parking on Saturdays creates a hardship for funerals and weddings and events at the church,” said Sullivan.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse was optimistic after the meeting. “There’s a lot of change taking place. I think the positive way to look at it, is the community had an opportunity to voice a number of concerns to the individuals who have an opportunity to do something about it. The question is, what are we going to be able to do both in the short-term and in the long-term to make this new parking system work better. I heard a lot of suggestions today that seem like no brainers. Things like discounted garage rates for employees working in the city. A discounted rate for people coming in to go to a mass or a funeral on a Saturday. These are things that could be done quickly and they are good suggestions,” said Mayor Papenfuse.

Motion denied

Before public comment, committee member Bruce Weber made a motion to add two seats to the board to represent people living and working in the city, “I would like to make a motion that the board consider recommending that the board enlarge its membership by two seats, one directly representing the residents, and one directly representing the business community,” said Weber. No one would second his motion. Instead, they said they would consider it at a later time.

Changes

Over the next several months, the Company, Standard Parking, will install updated, on-street parking meters, automate parking facilities, implement QR code parking reminders and develop a mobile app for Harrisburg parkers.

The new meters will accept cash, coins, and credit cards. People will be able to pay using a smart phone application. The app will alert people when their time is about to expire.

Higher fines are already in effect, Standard Parking lists the fine as $30 and $50 if the ticket isn’t paid within four days.

Parking is currently free after 5 p.m., but soon the meters will have to be fed from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Right now workers are issuing warning tickets to notify people of the time change.

Currently there are about ten new meters installed. In the next two weeks more new meters will be installed. After the first 35 are installed and running, new rates and expanded hours will kick in.

For more information on parking in Harrisburg, meters, garages, monthly parking, rates, fines, etc. click here.