Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Celina council votes to end two-hour parking
By William Kincaid
CELINA - Two-hour parking limits in downtown Celina will be eliminated once an ordinance approved by council members Monday night takes effect in 30 days.
The legislation, which does away with restrictions on downtown streets bounded by Livingston, Ash, Logan and Walnut streets and one-half block west on Market Street and one block west on Fayette Street, was ratified with a 3-2 vote; councilmen Ed Jeffries and June Scott voted no, while Myron Buxton, Jeff Larmore and Jeremy Hinton voted yes.
Councilman Mike Sovinski was absent and Bill Sell abstained from the vote at the recommendation of city law director George Moore due to a potential conflict of interest - Sell's wife owns property in the business district.
Once the new law takes effect, street parking will still be prohibited 3 to 5 a.m. daily. Also, vehicles can remain continuously parked in city-controlled lots up to 18 hours.
However, council members will look at developing a new policy at the beginning of next year once new council members Fred LeJeune, Mark Fleck and Eric Clausen come aboard.
"What I am in favor of is keeping the peace among the people," Scott said. "...My opinion is if we get rid of this ordinance, we're not doing anything for parking - we're eliminating something that we did do."
Jeffries said council members wanting to eliminate the parking limits aren't looking at the big picture: Some people are going to lose parking spots.
Bob Heitkamp, owner of Gamarama and a longtime critic of the city's lack of parking enforcement, again spoke out against the prospect of ending two-hour parking, asking council members to put themselves in merchants' shoes and vote like they owned a downtown business that was constantly being parked in front of by vehicles of other business owners.
"If this ordinance isn't working, I think the worst thing we can do is get rid of it," he said. "If we do need to change it, then we need to sit down and figure out a better way to do it. Mr Sell suggested maybe make it (parking limit) three hours. Maybe we can make it better."
Council president Jason King suggested administrators create a new workable solution, noting that city officials shouldn't wait until additional problems arise to take action.
"Downtown parking has been an issue of sorts since 1952," Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel said.
Administrators, Hazel said, will work with council committees to come up for a few ideas; however, Hazel said he does not favor signs or parking meters.
Perhaps, some individual businesses would be interested in parking meters, he said.
But there's got to be some kind of compromise that people are willing to deal with, he added.