Town defends parking policies
Mayor Susan Webster defended the town’s parking strategy at the Town of Bath Council meeting Tuesday evening, December 17.
Alluding to a parking study completed by Desman Associates in December 2009, Webster said the town has followed the recommendations made by the study that it could afford.
“We have worked with this parking study as we could. And I wanted to underscore to the public that had this parking study been done and we ignored it and acted in bad faith, I can see us being criticized,” Webster said.
However, she pointed out that, as recommended by the study, the town has added parking spaces, changed the timing of meters from eight hours to two hours to facilitate turnover in the business district and replaced the old mechanical meters with new digital meters.
“We have tried to work this study and three years isn’t a long time. We have tried several things to help with parking situations. We may not have pleased everybody, but we have tried to maintain it and move forward with it,” Webster said.
Bath Police Chief Craig Pearrell said police have written fewer tickets this year while collecting more money from the digital meters.
“We are not handing out as many tickets as people think we are,” Pearrell said.
Statistics for parking tickets issued between January 1 and December 4, 2012 show police have issued 3,227 parking tickets and collected $18,680 from 2,335 tickets paid.
Pearrell pointed out police voided 333 tickets during that period, some due to meter malfunctions and others to extenuating circumstances.
Councilman Ken Easton, referring to a statement he made at the December 4 meeting that people who could afford to eat lunch at Tari’s Café could afford to put money in the meter, said he did not mean to imply lunches at the restaurant were expensive.
Farmers Market dates
Laura Glascock told the mayor and council approximately 25,000 people visited the Berkeley Springs Farmers Market this year. She thanked the council for letting the market extend their season into December.
Glascock asked the council to allow the Sunday market to run next year from April 7 – December 22, except the weekend of the Apple Butter Festival. She asked that the Thursday market be allowed to run from July 11 – August 29.
Council approved the dates. “We absolutely love what you do and we are so glad you are here, apparently seeing some success, and want you to come back,” Webster said.
Town residents Rick Weber and Douglas Waugh have both asked the council to consider abandoning land adjacent to their properties.
Weber wants to build a garage-like storage building on a small parcel of land shown on town maps as an extension of, and right-of-way for, Scaling Street.
Waugh had petitioned the council in 2004 and again in 2009 to abandon an alleyway between his lot and lots owned by Corey Lett Belton that is, according to town maps, an unused extension of, and right-of-way for, Ewing Street. Belton and Waugh want to plant trees and garden the lot.
Webster said she consulted with town’s attorney Richard Gay and was told, depending on whether the parcels in question were actually street right-of-ways or not, the town could abandon, lease or sell the land.
Webster told Weber and Waugh they both needed to have Berkeley Land Surveys conduct title searches to determine ownership of the properties and if the properties were actually street right-of-ways.
Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Andy Swaim said, “No matter what, I don’t want any expense for the town.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and a recent incident of a lockdown at Widmyer Elementary School, Chief Pearrell said he had met with Morgan County School Superintendent David Banks, Chief Deputy Wade Shambaugh and State Police Sergeant Scott Davis about forming an emergency response team to respond to a similar situation.
Part of the program would include educating school officials, teachers, parents and students about what actions to take if an active shooter was inside the school.
Pearrell said he was working with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy Cliff Coburn, the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) resource officer, to assist with courses for county schools.
He said a town police officer will attend a class to get certified to teach the courses.