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Mayor Discusses Future of Easton Parking

Panto says Easton needs to replace Pine Street garage and make meters easier to use.

Easton needs to replace its Pine Street parking garage and make parking at meters a less painful experience, Mayor Sal Panto said Friday.

Two days after City Council voted for a budget that raises meter rates around the city, Panto presented a larger vision for the future of parking in Easton to members of the downtown business community at the Grand Eastonian.

It includes extending the life of -- but ultimately replacing -- the Pine Street garage, and finding room for another parking garage downtown in addition to the planned intermodal unit on S. Third Street.

Ideally, the second lot would be on N. Fourth Street, across from the Express-Times building, Panto said.

"I’m not saying we build big Taj Mahals for parking and nobody comes," Panto said, but added that a new garage would offer a contrast to the "industrial" looking one on Pine Street.

The city is also looking to make changes to the way drivers use its parking meters: 

  • Setting up a way to pay tickets -- and to report meters that are out of order -- online.
  • Giving parking enforcement officers handheld devices to record violations.
  • Possibly offering a discount to people who pay their tickets the same day they get them, but also setting up graduating penalties for late tickets.

Easton is raising the price of its meters next year from 50 cents to $1 per hour. The city will also install about 200 meters that can take credit cards, as well as parking kiosks in the downtown surface lots. 

Audience members expressed concerns about the changes. 

Frank Kutch, the house manager at the State Theatre, said the two-hour time limit on meters makes things difficult for both theater patrons and volunteers.

"If you have more than a two-hour show, you’re taking away the pleasure of the theater experience," he said. Kutch added that he was happy to see the city's plan to lower the parking garage rates in the evening. "But to expect them all to park in the garage isn’t realistic."

Others had questions about the timing/cost of the new meters. 

City officials said there have been misconceptions about the meters, that drivers would be required to pay a minimum of $1. The $1 minimum is only for credit/debit card payments. The new credit card meters still take quarters, meaning it will be possible to just park at one for a 15-minute increment for 25 cents.

It will take about a month for the city to install its new meters, City Administrator Glenn Steckman told the group.

"You don’t flip a switch and all of a sudden they go from 50 cents to a dollar," he said.

Annonymous December 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Asurd. Where to start Mr. Mayor? Let's see, we're going to tear down the current parking garage to build one somewhere else and do what with the exisiting structure? Not to mention I'm sure the new parking garage will be yet another building with a contemporary design depricating the historical integrity of the city. And this coming only days after the ridiculous unanimous vote on the approval to increase the cost and time frames for the parking meters. How convenient because I believe I heard part of the argument for the approval of this increase was that the parking garage cost would go down after 5pm. Now we'll need to increase that again to pay for a new structure. Coincidence?! And then we have our parking enforcement, who no matter what time of day it is can't seem to tell the color of my car no matter what. I had two tickets over the course of two days - mind you one was during your 'free' parking day recently and both tickets read two different colors that were both incorrect! The car in front of mine also exceeding it's meter time did not have a ticket. Was this because the meter attendant was busy chit chatting with the Ambassador? This is all so absurd. When will it stop? I understand we all want to see progress in the city, but if you're trying to drive the 'riff raff' out by this means, you're sadly mistaken. It's only driving away long term residents instead.
Moving forward December 15, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I agree! I think their are more important things we could do with the money right now. For starters, more police patrolling the streets, street repairs, spruce street is incredibly uneven and broken up and so are many others in the area and I'm not talking about patch work, what about painting the street lines at the intersections What about upgrading the parks so the kids have something better. Raspberry park is a disaster. It's terrible that officials don't care about anything else except what is happening downtown. Easton doesn't stop at the state theatre

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