Elk­ton to of­fer free down­town park­ing start­ing Nov. 25

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By BRI­ANNA SHEA


Those hop­ing to do some hol­i­day shop­ping won’t have to worry about feed­ing the me­ter, as the town plans to once again of­fer free park­ing in the down­town start­ing Nov. 25.

The Elk­ton Board of Com­mis­sion­ers voted last week to of­fer free park­ing in the down­town from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2.

The Elk­ton Po­lice Depart­ment, which is re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing park­ing reg­u­la­tions, will put red bags over the me­ters in the down­town busi­ness dis­trict area to sig­nify that the me­ters are free, said Lewis Ge­orge, town ad­min­is­tra­tor, in an email.

Al­though peo­ple will not have to worry about the park­ing me­ters, they will still have to obey park­ing reg­u­la­tions, which are en­forced by a nonsworn park­ing of­fi­cer, Ge­orge said.

“The town sus­pends park-


ing me­ter en­force­ment but not en­force­ment of time limits in park­ing ar­eas des­ig­nated and signed as such,” he said. “This will en­cour­age peo­ple park­ing in the down­town busi­ness dis­trict to limit their use of space dur­ing the holi- day sea­son and pro­vide more eq­ui­table use of that space for shop­pers and oth­ers vis­it­ing the town.”

Other park­ing reg­u­la­tions such as park­ing too close to a fire hy­drant, hand­i­cap park­ing and park­ing where pro- hi­b­ited by a sign are also still in ef­fect, he said.

Ge­orge said he could not es­ti­mate how much rev­enue is lost dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son from the free me­ters. The town has im­ple­mented this pol­icy for many years and there­fore does not have “a rev­enue amount earned dur­ing this time­frame for com­par­i­son.”

“Re­gard­less, we be­lieve that the sus­pen­sion of park­ing me­ter en­force­ment in the down­town busi­ness dis­trict is a pos­i­tive in­cen­tive to en­cour­age shop­ping in our down­town dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son and adds much to fes­tive spirit thriv­ing in this area,” he added.

Mary Jo Jablon­ski, com­mis­sioner and ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Elk­ton Cham­ber and Al­liance, said she is in fa­vor of peo­ple not pay­ing for the me­ters dur­ing the spec­i­fied time.

“I re­ally like do­ing that,” Jablon­ski said. “Just to help pro­mote busi­ness down­town.”

Dur­ing pre­vi­ous free park­ing me­ter dates, busi­nesses own­ers in the town have said that the free me­ters have had an ef­fect on their busi­nesses.

The Ce­cil County Arts Coun­cil has park­ing me­ters in front of its build­ing.

“It’s great, it’s a very wel­com­ing idea,” said An­nmarie Hamil­ton, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the CCAC on Fri­day. “It’s very gen­er­ous of the town and I know for some of our peo­ple who see the hooded me­ters, it calls your at­ten­tion to it.”

Hamil­ton said that while the free me­ters have had some im­pact on the busi­ness, she doesn’t think it’s the me­ters alone that bring in more cus­tomers and vis­i­tors dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. But she did note that the free me­ters make peo­ple more at ease since they don’t have to worry about stop­ping and feed­ing the me­ter.

“I think it’s a nice Christ­mas gift the town gives to the mer- chants and shop­pers,” Hamil­ton said.

The Palette & The Page, which does not have me­ters in front of its store, has also been im­pacted by the free me­ters.

On Fri­day, Patti Paulus, one of the co-own­ers of the busi­ness, said the free me­ters have helped in­crease the vol­ume of peo­ple who come into the store dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. While she also can­not solely at­tribute the in­creased busi­ness to the free park­ing me­ters, she said they are a fac­tor.

The down­town area al­ready of­fers many places to eat and shop, which brings more peo­ple to the area, Paulus said, but the ad­di­tion of the free me­ters is a good thing to have.

“Just the whole at­mos­phere of small busi­ness and hav­ing park­ing close to the store — we’ve watched traf­fic, in gen­eral, grow,” Paulus said. “Over seven years, we’ve watched the num­ber of cus­tomers grow over the hol­i­day sea­son.”

Paulus noted peo­ple do not have to worry about feed­ing the me­ter, nor hav­ing to check the time. She said the free me­ters al­low peo­ple more time to look around the town.

The town will pro­vide a no­tice on its web­site, www.elk­ton. org, about the free park­ing.


The town will sus­pend park­ing me­ter en­force­ment be­gin­ning Nov. 25 un­til Jan. 2.

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