Lehigh Valley

Easton residents say parking is a pain at council meeting

"It is a thorough nightmare," on resident said.

EASTON, Pa. - Easton residents are voicing concerns about the spread of metered parking up S. 5th Street.

Parking meters are the city’s first attempt to solve S. 5th Street’s ongoing parking problems.

The street fills up with city employees and event attendees trying to avoid parking fees on N. 5th and Northampton Streets.

“It’s not the customers,” said Mayor Sal Panto. “It’s the employees.”

S. 5th Street residents are unhappy with the current situation and worried the city’s fix will affect their bank accounts and property values.

“We have children, there’s elderly, and we’re parking far away,” said Mercy Mbevi. “It’s difficult as it is.”

Though they understood crowds at big events, Mbevi said the neighborhood needed a permanent parking solution that didn’t include buying themselves a resident parking permit.

“A lot of us can’t afford a $100 annual permit,” she said.

Easton Police Department Lt. Salvatore Crisafulli said metered parking was the only way he could think to solve parking congestion on S. 5th Street.

Because the area doesn’t have parking meters with three-hour time limits, the street attracts downtown employees and day visitors who don’t wat to pay for parking.

Crisafulli said he’d stopped by during the weekday to find S. 5th street full.

Only one parking space had been filled on the north side of the street and that person was a permitted parker who should have been able to park on S. 5th Street.

“There’s nothing there to prevent them from parking all day long,” Crisafulli said.

Emanuel Jordan, who moved to Easton in 2003, said though the area changed for positive parking was still a problem.

“It is a thorough nightmare,” Jordan said.

While Jordan saw the logic of the city’s meter system (which is designed to spark higher parking turnover rates among non-residents) he said he could only support something that works for everyone on his block.

“Meters are there so people without permits can’t park there a whole day, Panto said.

Neighborhoods such as West Ward by courthouse, Spring Garden Street, Bushkill, and 2nd street are more highly used residential areas where metered parking has worked, Panto said.

“We don’t make money on meters. I can prove it.” Panto said. “It’s there to regulate turnover.”

Jamie Cavreza, an Easton resident since 2001, double parks to bring in groceries and plans her errands around downtown events, knowing her spot may not be there when she returns.

Cavreza said she was initially excited to hear about parking meters but was now rethinking after looking at rates for other cities. Allentown and New Hope charge residents a $25 annual permit fee while Philadelphia has a one-car rate of $35.

Easton’s annual fee for a residential parking permit is $100. The city issues between 300-400 permits annually.

Easton’s parking permit doesn’t compare to what other cities offer, Cavreza said before asking officials to keep lower fees as an option.

City officials aren’t happy with a plan, either.

Council member Roger Ruggles suggested the city offset the permit cost for residents using the revenue from parking meters. But other council members said the accounting would be overly complicated and would open up an argument for all of the city’s residential neighborhoods.

Council member Peter Melan, who introduced the bill at Wednesday’s meeting, said the city still had options to weigh, including turning the whole area into permit parking only, before making a decision.

Parking meters will come up again at the next meeting, where it can either be voted on or tabled for further review.

If the city moves ahead with the plan, it would mean approximately 35 meters installed between Ferry and Northampton streets.

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