Thursday, August 20, 2009

Curious Parking Lot Signage

A City Council item about a parking lot closure for a September event set me off on an exploration of city lots Wednesday.

Despite the heat, I traipsed from Seventh Street to the Green Brook and from Roosevelt to Madison to get a look at all but one of the lots. The one that will be closed on Sept. 20 and 21 from noon to 7 p.m. turns out to be Lot 8, north of East Front Street buildings between Watchung Avenue and Somerset Street. The event is a celebration of the independence of Central America and the location was described only as Block 317, lot 19, not by parking lot number.

I always get Lot 1 and Lot 8 mixed up, so I decided to research the lots. Recent applications to land use boards for apartments have provided no parking for residents, claiming there is ample parking in city lots, another reason to look into the facts.

As usual on my walks around the city, I found some oddities. The sign pictured above directs people to obtain parking permits at the Blue Swan Restaurant. There is a Blue Swan Luncheonette listed in the 1976 city directory at 316 Watchung Avenue, but it is long gone. Why permits would be issued from a luncheonette is a bit curious. Nowadays permits must be obtained from the Parking Bureau on West Fourth Street.

Another thing I found out is that the lots are not posted with signs identifying them, except for Lot 9. An official map of the parking lots, with a chart on the number of metered, permitted and handicap spaces, may be seen in the Planning Division, but copies are not available. I took some photos and worked from them to document the lots. Unfortunately, the statistics are out of date.

These parking lots generate revenue, both from permits and from fines. Lot 7, next to my building, has 62 yellow-lined permit spaces, but only one or two car owners park there with $30 monthly permits. Only five of nine meters remain, the rest having been vandalized. The hapless church volunteer or person running an errand at Park & Seventh gets slapped with a $38 fine for parking in a permit space.

There are more than 700 permit spaces in all the lots, compared to about 200 metered spaces. Many meters are missing. Obviously, parking in a white-lined space with a missing meter is the best bargain.

This may sound like a real dog-days story, not much news content, but these currently underutilized parking lots could become an important factor in downtown residential and business development. More to follow.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Permits equal revenue. If Plainfield was more aggressive about collecting money for permits, fines etc. we would not need a 10% property tax increase.

Look at the roofs of homes along Leeland. They violate the city ordinance. Where is inspections in getting them off the roofs and collecting the fines?

10:29 AM  
Blogger Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

Thanks Bernice for this report!

It is so sad to see how neglected the city has been for who knows how many years. We indeed have a city that lacks progressive leadership that pays attention to detail, will that be changing anytime soon?

The weak signs of progress that the council is beginning to show might be a sign, but we still have such a long way to go. Only the people can make the change by paying attention and demanding action.

Thanks again for the parking lot update!

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And people will whine and not make a change. Do we deserve any better if we do not demand more of ourselves?

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A curious question...Why are some business owners allowed to park in metered spaces and not get tickets? Do they have permits to park their advertising vehicles all day without feeding the meter? The meter maid just walks by and does not issue tickets. I run in and out for coffee and she issues me a ticket. Does she only ticket some of the people and not others? How do I get the privilage of free parking at the meter? Do I have to pay for it? The business owners are taking up spaces that should be for their customers. And they should be paying the meter like everyone else!

2:43 PM  

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