First Posted: 2/24/2013
As downtown Pittston begins to thrive, parking has become an issue.
The City recently repaired or replaced the meters downtown and has hired a parking enforcement official to monitor meters and issue tickets.
We're taking an aggressive look at parking, said Mike Lombardo, of the city's Redevelopment Authority, which owns the city lots.
In addition to the new meters, the city plans parking kiosks for several of its downtown lots.
The truth of the matter is a lot of times you get out of your car and you have no quarters, Lombardo said. And it's hard to run into places. Sometimes people will say, ‘I'm only going to be 5 minutes,' and it blows up and they get it ticket.
The kiosks, Lombardo said, will allow a motorist to use cash or change, a smartphone app that uses Paypal or credit and debit cards.
The city has four major lots: the lot behind the YMCA, the Tomato Festival lot, the Rite Aid lot and the new St. John's lot.
Meals on Wheels of Greater Pittston has recently found itself in an awkward position.
The volunteer drivers have been getting ticketed and warned about double parking in front of their headquarters on Main Street.
What happens one day when a truck comes down the street and they get flattened? said Joe Moskovitz, city manager.
Double parking is an issue, even for a short time, because the City's Fire Headquarters in nearby and the trucks round a corner directly in front of the building.
Sterling Fisk, of West Pittston, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, said he felt the city was targeting his group.
Just recently, we are now not allowed to double park on Main Street in order to load our vehicles, he said. We were told to park in the public lots.
Drivers from UPS and FedEX double park with flashers when they make deliveries, Fisk said.
We're not sure why Pittston is worried about getting 50 cents from a group of volunteers, Fisk said.
Lombardo said the city doesn't need the meter revenue and it's being used to pay the attendant and repair meters.
There are these new circumstances that we've created with development and we want to be user friendly, he said.
Louise Smith, volunteer coordinator and president of the board of Meals on Wheels of Greater Pittston, said her group and the city have come to an understanding.
They will honor our past commitment with our placard in the window at the meters, she said.
The drivers load up in front of the building in a metered parking spot, but sometimes double park when there's no spaces available.
Most of our drivers are older, and it's difficult to carry 20 hot meats in a great big thermal bag and a box with 20 trays, Smith said. We're not there long. We're in and out.
Additionally, drivers pay for their own gas and high gas prices make parking tickets especially difficult to pay.
Meals on Wheels has three routes: the Duryea route, which includes Avoca, Dupont and Hughestown; the Pittston route, which covers Pittston City to the Plains Township border; and the West Side route, which goes from West Pittston to the airport in Forty Fort.
The Oddfellows have provided space in their building at no charge to the charity since 2003.
Meals on Wheels has about 56 volunteers, which include cooks, runners and drivers.
The group delivers lunch and dinner to 60 people in the Greater Pittston Area, Monday to Friday.
Lombardo said there was likely a breakdown in communication.
There was a failure on all of our parts to consider everybody that was using downtown, he said.
Double parking is still off the table, but the city will respect the organization's window placards from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
The city will consider a request for a loading zone space in the morning for the group.
Lombardo said speeding on Main Street needs to be addressed as well.
We firmly believe that traffic is way too fast going down Main Street, he said.
A new traffic light, at the corner of Market and Main streets, is nearly ready to be installed, he said.
The gap between the Columbus Street light and the Broad Street light, that's a big gap, Lombardo said. And people are going entirely too fast.
The city and authority received approval to install the light and funding is 95 percent complete.
PennDOT likes it because it's another traffic calming mechanism, Lombardo said. And in the big picture, what are you losing, maybe 15 seconds?