Thursday, February 21, 2002
Lebanon asked to ditch meters
By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEBANON Downtown merchants are asking the city to remove parking meters, citing complaints from visitors who patronize their antiques and craft shops and restaurants.
They're chasing people away, said Sandy Fuston, owner of the Village Ice Cream Parlor.
About 30 members of the Lebanon Antique Dealers and Merchants Association have signed a petition asking for the meters' removal, President Ken Haley said Wednesday. They'd like the meter attendant to mark tires with chalk.
Lebanon has been replacing old meters with electronic ones for several years, at a cost of at least $40,000, Councilman James Reinhard estimated. The city began buying them after merchants said they were needed to keep downtown employees from hogging prime parking on Broadway and other streets.
Ms. Fuston was in favor of meters then, but now says the electronic meters, and the higher fines that accompanied them, aren't working. They break often, customers have trouble operating them and the 30-minute limits that some have are unreasonable, she said.
As for the merchants and employees who use on-street parking, she said: We know who they are. We can take care of these people.
The Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, which has received many complaints about the meters, wholeheartedly supports the merchants' proposal, Director Wilma Grace said.
One lady stuck her head in our door and said, "I'm never coming back. I've spent hundreds of dollars and now you give me a parking ticket,' Ms. Grace said. There's nothing that makes people madder than getting a parking ticket.
The city appears reluctant to take out nearly new meters. At this point, I think we've got too much invested in them, said Mr. Reinhard, chairman of the finance committee. We need to get some back.
Both sides point to the plethora of free parking elsewhere downtown, including city lots on Mechanic, Cherry and Sycamore streets.
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