West Chester borough council members and residents discussed an ordinance that would extend enforcement of Area A residential parking permits to Saturdays.
The motion to extend enforcement in Area A was discussed at a borough council work session on Tuesday, April 16. The idea came after council members received several complaints from residents who find Saturday parking to be especially difficult because of visitors from out of town parking in Area A. Area A refers to the southeast side of West Chester, from Rosedale Street to Miner, and Franklin Street to High.
Two council members, Cassandra L Jones and Jordan C. Norley, conducted a survey of borough residents. “[Our] survey did come back overwhelmingly in favor of having the [parking] ordinance enforced on Saturday,” said Jones. In fact, 63 percent of respondents were in favor of residential permit extension. “The only problem I see with [our survey],” Jones continued, “is that we didn’t have time to go door to door and ask everyone individually.”
Survey participants were selected from the combined email accounts of Jones and Norley, and contacted via email. Out of 70 emails sent by Norley, 41 residents responded, and out of 15 sent by Jones, 12 residents responded. “My concern is that we have a very small sample,” said Jones.
Jones was not the only one who was concerned. Sue Bayn, West Chester resident and former borough council member for eight years, said, “Council has a permit process which requires a petition to be signed by a certain number of residents before a proposal is put into place… before you go racking up bills, and creating ordinances, you need a percentage of residents to say, ‘yes, we want this.'” Bayn said a more representative survey or petition could be conducted in less than two weeks – even before further discussion on the proposal takes place. “There’s no reason to railroad this thing,” said Bayn. “You are about to propose something that most people have not weighed in on.”
Other residents asserted that extending enforcement would affect other permit areas. West Chester resident Joe Norley Sr., who lives in the southwest area of town, said, “There is concern in the southwest quadrant that [permits will be enforced on Saturdays] in the southeast.” Norley continued that residents of the southeast quadrant are mostly college students. Many students invite guests to stay over the weekends. If these guests will be ticketed for parking in Area A, the concern is that they will park in other areas of town, such as Area B.
“I don’t want this problem to get worse,” says borough resident Diane Horvath, a resident of parking Area B. “We already have a shuttle system on one side of town,” she says. According to Horvath, many students park in Area B, then are shuttled other areas of town to attend parties.
Council is working to appease all residents. According to councilman Norley, there are special permits that can be obtained prior to guest visits. With a bit of planning, residents will still be able to obtain special event and guest passes to accommodate visitors from out of town. “[The proposed ordinance] would just take care of the spontaneous, ‘I’m gonna have 20 people over at my house’ parties,” said Norley.
Borough council President Holly V. Brown thinks parking overflow is inevitable. West Chester University is accepting increasingly larger numbers of students, but the town cannot hold them. “In a town where our streets have not expanded since the 18th century – where people used to ride horses and buggies – we are now trying to fit all these cars into a space that just does not expand,” said Brown.
Councilman Stephan A. Shinn said that what West Chester needed to really fix the parking problem is a borough-wide parking study, a measure which Shinn says could cost over $100,000. “This structure wasn’t build to handle the density that’s here,” says Shinn. “There’s really no good solution.”
Kellyn McNamarais a fourth-year student majoring in nutrition & dietetics. She can be reached at KM654122@wcupa.edu.