Council mulls updating parking ordinance
Jamestown will revive a defunct parking committee to review the ordinance on an annual basis and report back to the Town Council as needed, the councilors decided at Monday’s meeting.
Councilor Thomas Tighe suggested restoring the panel after the councilors discussed problems with the parking ordinance. Police Chief Ed Mello had attempted to update the ordinance, but the Town Council indicated they wanted to go back to the drawing board.
However, before they do so, Town Solicitor Peter Ruggieri said the best course of action would be to deal with the chief’s proposals first. Ruggiero said that after he and Mello conferred to clean up the policy questions, he would send the Town Council “a confidential package.” After that, Ruggieri would draft a resolution to create a parking committee.
“You don’t have to vote on anything tonight,” Ruggieri said.
Mello made a presentation to the council following his March 1 memo to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser. In the memo, Mello highlighted several suggested ordinance amendments.
The councilors agreed to go forward with two proposals, both contingent on state approval. The proposals would create residentonly parking on the north side of Hamilton Avenue between Southwest
Avenue and Fox Run, and in the right-of-way on Beavertail Road.
Mello said the Beavertail section would add 35 parking spaces, but he expressed doubt the state would approve the concept.
Councilor Mary Meagher asked for specifics about the location, and Mello said the Beavertail parking was on a right-of-way that was an extension of the parking lot at Hull Cove Farm and Beavertail roads.
The impetus for the change, he said, was to prevent people from evading the beach parking fees. Parking at Mackerel Cove requires either a resident sticker or a $15 day pass.
Meagher said she would support the change provided the penalty for parking illegally on Hamilton Avenue was higher than the cost of the $15 beach pass.
Meagher and other councilors also indicated they would approve several “housekeeping” measures, including one to OK stop signs to create a four-way stop at the intersection of Pemberton and Watson avenues.
But the councilors nixed a plan to regulate parking on West Ferry Wharf. Citing a letter from Alison Eichler, owner of the Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, Councilor Eugene Mihaly said her suggestion was to allow open parking at West Ferry, similar to the arrangement at East Ferry.
Mihaly called the West Ferry proposal a “solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” He kayaks in the area, he said, and is familiar with the parking arrangements.
“People sort themselves out,” Mihaly said.
In reply, Mello said the proposed amendment came in response to a complaint and represented an attempt to “strike a balance.” According to the ordinance, parking by the outhauls is supposed to require a resident sticker, although in practice, people have not been abiding by that regulation.
“The practice seems to be open parking,” Mihaly said. He went on to say the restrictions, which Mello proposed, seemed “totally unnecessary.”
Keiser said the parking signs at West Ferry have been ignored for a number of years. He suggested trying open parking and revisiting the issue in a year.
Jamestown resident Peter Fay asked why the town wanted to tighten parking restrictions.
“Are we trying to set up exclusionary policies to keep people out of town?” he asked.
Fay said he has been taking his children to Mackerel Cove for 12 years, and parking is only a problem a few days out of the year. He said the parking ordinance amendments seemed like “overkill.”
If people buy a house next to the beach, he said, they should expect beachgoers will park in front of their property.
Southwest Avenue resident Frank Meyer replied he was not being at all exclusionary when he complained about out-of-towners.
“We do not object to people parking at our house,” he said. However, Meyer added he does not appreciate people trying to beat the beach parking fees by arriving at 8 a.m., “zooming down” Southwest Avenue, turning around in the driveway, then parking in front of his house.
Meanwhile, he says, the Jamestown taxpayers are footing the bill for lifeguards, cleanup crews and the bathhouse.
“I just want them to pay their fair share for what they use at the beach,” Meyer said.
Meagher said not paying the beach parking was unfair, but on the other hand, the Town Council does not want to be “exclusionary.” In reviewing the different regulations, she said, Jamestown parking seemed “almost arbitrary”
Tighe said he would prefer to go back to the old committee, which had included a member each from the Town Council, the Harbor Commission, the Planning Commission, the Police Department and the Chamber of Commerce.
In other business, in advance of the regular meeting, the councilors held interviews for vacancies on boards and commissions but did not take any votes. Michael Schnack and Peter Fay were interviewed for one seat on the Harbor Commission. Fay also has applied to serve on the Conservation Commission. Jerome Scott interviewed for the Affordable Housing Committee, and Valerie Molloy expressed her interest in a position on the Housing Authority.