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What's new in down Waynesboro? Meters

December 21, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - On a busy Tuesday afternoon, Carlos Montero of Smithsburg pulled into a parking space along West Main Street in Waynesboro.

Avoiding traffic along busy Pa. 16, he stepped out of his vehicle and made his way to the curb. Eyeing the parking meter closely, he read to make sure the money in his hand was enough.

"New?" he asked.

Montero was not the only person in Waynesboro to notice that the old penny parking meters - some that worked and many that didn't - had been replaced with electronic 25-cent meters. Up and down Main Street, residents paused to read the shiny, new meters and occasionally dig in their pockets for more money.

Borough manager Lloyd Hamberger said the borough installed 214 new meters this month along Main, Church and Walnut streets. At a cost of $40,000, the project also came with a meter-rate increase.

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Since the 1980s, Hamberger said people could spend an hour downtown and put about 5 cents in the meter.

"They were museum pieces," he said of the old meters.

The new meters charge 25 cents for an hour and will not register time until 10 cents is deposited. Hamberger said that while the increase is substantial, it is on par with most small town rates.

For all the fancy features on the new meters, Hamberger said residents have already reported problems.

"People have called in and said the meters won't work," Hamberger said.

Unlike the old meters, he said, the new ones are easy to fix.

"We go out and try them and usually, they work or we change the battery," he said.

Downtown manager Carol Malin said changing the parking meters and raising rates comes with both benefits and drawbacks.

Malin said the old meters were known to be finicky.

"People would stick coins on top of the meter because they could not feed it," she said. With the old meters, she said people would park all day, knowing the meter did not work and they would not be ticketed by borough police.

Waynesboro Police Chief Ray Shultz said while the meters are new, enforcing parking is not a new job for the police department.

"I have been here a long time, and we have always enforced the meters," he said.

Yet for some people, a $5 meter violation that doubles after 72 hours is not enough to break the habit of parking all day in a metered space.

Barry Sonne, owner of Ace of Shades and Castle Fabrics on West Main Street, said the new meters do not stop people from parking in front of his shop all day.

"And I understand, for a $5 a ticket, why bother putting in a quarter?" he said. "If they want to fix the issue of people parking all day, they should raise the ticket price."

Hamberger said the new meters, which only register up to two hours, should turn over traffic more efficiently.

New meters might not be enough to deter some people from parking downtown all day, but Malin says they will deter shoppers.

"People don't like to pay to park when they can go to a mall and park for free," she said. Malin said paying more to park could make shoppers less likely to visit downtown businesses.

The borough installed new meters in accordance with meter certification laws, Hamberger said.

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