MANCHESTER — The aldermen have killed a proposal that would have replaced the current winter parking ban, which requires drivers to park on the odd or even side of the street depending on the day, with a yearly system.
The city issues far more tickets for violating the ban than for any other parking infraction. In the last fiscal year, 2,142 of 2,803 total tickets were issued for violating the winter parking ban, which runs from Dec. 1 through April 15.
Ward 2 Alderman Ron Ludwig had proposed changing the current daily system with a ban that would run the length of the season; depending on whether the year is odd or even, the corresponding side of a street would be off-limits for parking for five months at a time.
“I think it’s very confusing to a lot of people out there,” Ludwig said at the Nov. 19 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. “We give a substantial amount of tickets for parking on the wrong side of the street. I’d like to see people get fewer tickets.”
The current system requires drivers to park their cars on the odd or even side of the street depending on whether the date is an odd or even number. Since the ban runs from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., drivers who park in the evening must keep in mind the next day’s date.
Supporters of the current system, including Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard, have argued that it ensures that snow and ice don’t pile up on one side of the street, which can be particularly problematic on the city’s narrower roads.
In a letter to the aldermen, Sheppard wrote, “I prefer the current odd/even winter parking ban versus allowing parking on one side of the street through the winter months. Although it is rarely necessary, this allows us to clean up snow and/or icing conditions throughout the city over a two-night period.”
Alderman-At-Large Dan O’Neil said changing the current system would be a step backward.
“I remember when we had to close streets because we couldn’t get the ice off,” O’Neil said. “I really don’t think it’s that complicated... The school I’m from, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
But Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long said the ticket numbers show that the current system is not working. “I’m not sure how this isn’t broken,” he said.
Mayor Ted Gatsas said he also felt the current winter parking ban was confusing.
In the end, however, only five aldermen voted to change the system.
A subsequent motion to try out Ludwig’s proposal as a pilot program in Ward 2, where he and Gatsas live, also failed.
New parking officer?
The aldermen took action on another parking-related idea at the same meeting, voting to advance a proposal to hire another parking control officer to enforce the time limit on parking on residential streets.
The motion was made by Ward 5 Alderman Ed Osborne. “I’ve seen it a lot in my ward, cars would park constantly and the signs meant nothing. They were just sitting there. We might as well not have signs,” he said.
Osborne presented data showing the additional cost for an officer, estimated at $56,000 to $62,000 a year for an officer and a vehicle, could be offset by the revenue gained from tickets. Rather than approve the motion outright, the aldermen voted to forward the proposal to the committee formulating next year’s budget.