ALPENA - The new parking proposed by the Alpena Downtown Development Authority and approved by Alpena Municipal Council takes effect today and a new attendant hired by the DDA will be out looking for violators.
The new regulations, in effect from 8 a.m. through 6 p.m., will primarily impact a pair of downtown parking lots that will become three-hour parking areas. The largest of the parking lots, which is on River Street and Third Avenue behind the Owl Cafe, will be three hour parking, as is one behind The Alpena News on Park Place and First Avenue. Street-side parking also will be limited to three hours, except for areas around city hall and the First Congregational Church on Lockwood Street and Second Avenue.
The goal of the new regulations are to make more prime parking areas available for stores downtown and not the store owners and employees who often park in them for long stretches. DDA Director Lesslee Dort said the new parking plan took each business into consideration and none of the businesses downtown are more than a block from all-day parking. She said the new attendant will be monitoring parking downtown, as well as becoming familiar with people who live and work downtown.
"He is going to start his rounds and routes," Dort said. "He is purposely having a varied schedule, so no one knows when he is coming. I will be walking him around and introducing him and after a day or two he will be popping into places to introduce himself so businesses and guests alike will feel comfortable with him."
As in years past, the attendant will mark tires with chalk and log information regarding the car and parking spot. At some point he will return and see if a violation has taken place. Dort said besides new regulations, council also approved a hike in the amount of parking citations to be more in line with other fines in the city.
"It was $3 and it was increased to $10 and will go up to $20 if it is not paid in 10 days," Dort said. "If it isn't paid 10 days after that it doubles and goes to $40. It isn't the biggest ticket, but it can get expensive if people continue to get them, it can hurt."
Dort said she knows there will be some people who will try to find a way around the new regulations. She said she knows people may park in a three-hour spot and move to another nearby spot for another three hours. She said the attendant can't issue a citation for that, but doing so defeats the purpose of the regulations and prevent some customers from shopping at local small businesses.
"There is not a lot we can do to prevent that behavior. You have to want to leave the spaces for less than three hours," Dort said. "We were very careful that the employees downtown weren't inconvenienced too much still have a short walk to work and hope they will abide by the new regulations so the customers can have the parking to shop."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com