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Parking adjustments make sense

August 15, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The city of Fairmont this week made some reasonable reforms to its downtown parking enforcement. While Downtown Plaza and some side streets will still have a two-hour limit, the city has opened up Main Street to eight-hour parking, and more stalls in city parking lots will be available for individuals or businesses to lease. This may help ease some of the woes created when the city began enforcing the two-hour limit, and fining offenders $25.

We understand that the city is kind of caught in the middle between merchants who want space available downtown for their customers to park, and those who live or work downtown and who believe a $25 fine is a harsh penalty for an infraction. We might add that visitors from out of town certainly are not thrilled with those fines either.

City Administrator Mike Humpal led the charge this week in revising the parking regulations. He also made another important statement, namely that the city will try its experiment for another year. We assume that means that when that time is up, there could be more major changes to parking regulations. Or an end to parking enforcement.

Among other problems, the city faces the fact that its parking attendant is working 12 hours per week. That is a cost of $8,700 per year. The city hoped the issuing of tickets would pay for the parking monitor, but so far there have only been $3,500 in fines. To have an effective parking regulation system, the monitor has to work enough hours to make people wary of his/her presence. But at what cost? The city will have to answer that in coming months.



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