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Bloomsburg Town Council has advanced a recommendation from its Parking Sub-Committee to extend enforcement of metered parking spaces in the downtown to include Saturdays. The thinking behind the expansion is to deter people from “warehousing” vehicles in public parking spaces, keeping parking available for customers. With limited data, the Chamber is requesting additional study to determine the extent of the perceived problem.
The Parking Sub-Committee has recommended to Council that parking meter enforcement be changed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. In late 2015, Council was considering changing the times to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Area businesses joined The Chamber in expressing concerns about that plan and the Parking Sub-Committee was formed to develop more comprehensive strategies for managing parking inventory in the downtown commercial district.
The Sub-Committee recently recommended the change in beginning enforcement time to 10 a.m. based upon when the majority of retail businesses open. Committee members felt consistency of hours for all six days was important to reduce consumer confusion. While the recommended changes were supported by a majority of Sub-Committee members, Chamber President Fred Gaffney suggested further study on the weekend parking trends before implementing any changes. A study conducted by Bloomsburg University students and faculty in 2014 shows a slight increase in parking utilization on Saturdays (56% compared to 46.2% Sunday through Thursday). However, the study did not examine the nature of the increased utilization, which could include customers. The concern is that Saturday enforcement could deter customers from coming to the downtown on Saturdays, harming the businesses the change is intended to help.
The final report of the Downtown Revitalization Plan will also be delivered to Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. this month and will contain recommendations on parking management and encouraging business development. A majority of the members of the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Chamber and Visitors Bureau agreed that no changes to parking enforcement should be made pending review of the Plan and further study of weekend parking utilization.
On Monday, August 8th, the majority of Council members voted to advertise the proposed enforcement time change. A final vote is expected within the next month. The Chamber is seeking input from businesses on this proposal through a brief poll. The results will be provided to Town Council prior to that vote.