City will enforce Gallatin parking law

Instead of changing the law governing parking along Gallatin Street downtown, a Vandalia City Council committee has decided that the city will enforce the law currently on the books.

And the Vandalia Police Department plans to begin stricter enforcement of that law on July 1.

That law limits parking on Gallatin Street between Third Street and Sixth Street to two hours, 24 hours a day.

Mayor Rick Gottman instructed the councils streets committee to study a possible change to the law after Alderman Jerry Swarm voiced a complaint about merchants parking in front of their Gallatin Street businesses all day long.

At the committee meeting on Tuesday evening, Swarm and other committee members Aldermen Bret Brosman, Chad Feldpouch and Larry Cable talked about possible changes to the current law, including one that would allow residents in the upper levels of Gallatin Street buildings to park along the street at night.

Also involved in Tuesdays discussions were Gottman, Public Works Director John Moyer, Police Chief Larry Eason and Vandalia Main Street Program Manager Dana Whiteman.

At the meeting, Swarm, a former Gallatin Street business owner, continued to express displeasure with merchants using parking spaces intended for their customers.

I do not patronize a business where they (the business owner or operator) park right in front of their business, Swarm said.

Brosman, the chairman of the committee, suggested that the city consider lifting the two-hour restriction on evenings and weekends, when downtown businesses are open.

He made that suggestion due to the fact that some building owners already have apartments in the upper levels of those buildings, and that other owners may consider creating apartments for more revenue.

But Moyer said he is concerned about allowing parking on Gallatin overnight because the parked vehicles would cause problems with the operation of snowplows and the city street sweeper. In fact, it already has that problem with several vehicles, he said.

Snow is the main thing, Moyer said. Its hard to push snow from the curb to the center of the street, and you have to leave a bunch of snow in front and back of the vehicle. And then, you also have that vehicle plowed in.

The owners of one business, Allens Furniture, are not governed by the parking restriction, because the Allen family has for many years paid a monthly fee for a parking space in front of the business.

Brosman said that while hes pleased that the long-time business owners are allowed to keep that space, hes not interested in continuing the practice of making spaces available for a monthly fee.

Discussion on the issue came to a close with Cable saying, I say we leave it (the current parking restriction) alone and enforce it.

Others on the committee agreed with that recommendation.

Swarm said that in making that decision, the city should make it clear to business owners and operators on Gallatin Street that the law would be enforced.

We give notice that it will not be tolerated, and if they continue to do it, (they receive tickets), Swarm said.

Eason said that under city law, violators of the two-hour parking law could be fined $15 for each violation. There is, however, a state law that allows a fine of up to $75.

Also at the meeting, the committee began discussing how to address the problem of city residents parking on unimproved right of ways along streets in front of homes. The city will consider an ordinance amendment allowing such parking only on land improved with such surfaces as rock or concrete.

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