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Clear Spring says meters' need has expired

January 07, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

CLEAR SPRING - A downtown street project has led to a parking revolution in this small town.

Town officials say the 42 parking meters taken out during the Cumberland Street construction this summer won't be put back when the work's completed this spring.

The parking meters installed in 1968 charged just a nickel an hour. But the town's 385 residents still resented feeding the meters, town council members said.

The Clear Spring Town Council hasn't formally voted on the issue, but members came to a consensus about going meterless after an audit this week confirmed what they long suspected - the meters were costing the town money.

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During the last budget year, the town lost $200 a month on the meters.

The money they got from the meters and the $1 parking fines wasn't enough to pay a retired town resident for part-time enforcement.

"The town can't afford to have parking meters anymore," said Councilman Bill Albowicz.

Stewart Brennan, 79, wondered if car-poolers will leave their cars on the street all day, taking up valuable business parking.

But town council members said they plan to try installing two-hour parking signs to be enforced by the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Several businesses are represented on the council. Council members Bill and Julie Albowicz own Hoff's Liquor Store, and Councilman Mason Mundey owns Clear Spring Hardware.

Since the construction began, Bill Albowicz said downtown businesses have been forced to find alternate parking for their customers.

Many customers have gotten used to the free parking behind the businesses, he said.

"I seriously don't think we need parking meters any more," Bill Albowicz said.

Councilwoman Julie Albowicz said it wasn't fair that the meters were only on one block. Residents in one block had to feed the meter when unloading their groceries while it was free for their neighbors, she said.

Bill Albowicz said he thinks the move is a progressive one that other small towns will follow.

One reason people don't like to shop in downtown areas is because parking isn't free like it is at malls.

"That's one good way you can fight these malls," he said.

Area residents said they will welcome the change.

"I've paid my share of tickets," said Clear Spring area resident Shawn Gift. Once, he left his truck running to run into the hardware store for a minute and had a ticket on his car when he returned.

Crystal Funk, 28, who lives on Cumberland Street, said she's gotten many parking tickets.

"That'd be great," she said of the change.

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