Nelsonville City Council To Vote On Removal Of Parking Meters

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Following years of complaints from local business owners, Nelsonville City Council is expected to vote to remove the city's parking meters.

Currently, there are still parking meters throughout town but the city is not enforcing them, said City Manager Mark Hall.

An ordinance to remove the meters was tabled by Council in April, but was revised at Monday night's meeting and is expected to pass in its second reading later this month, Hall told The Messenger.

If Council votes to formally remove the meters, they would also abolish the city's position of parking meter attendant, which has been held by a part-time Nelsonville Police Officer. The attendant has not been working during the current trial period of free parking meters, the Messenger reported this past month.

The ordinance comes as Nelsonville business owners have argued that the parking meters have deterred business and made customers feel less welcome.

According to Miki Brooks, Vice President of the city's Chamber of Commerce, more than 40 people have signed a pledge rallying against the meters. Such business owners have committed to policing themselves and their employees against parking in the free customer spaces if Council were to remove the paid meters.

"Our goal in Nelsonville is to become a tourist destination," Brooks said. "What we're saying is we want our guests and our tourists and the folks to come to Nelsonville to feel welcome."

Councilman Bill Theisen said at Monday's meeting that he felt uncomfortable voting to terminate a city employee's position to "save people a quarter." He also said that Athens businesses succeed despite parking meters throughout Court Street and the surrounding area.

"Court Street is a different animal," Brooks countered. And while the ordinance eliminate a position of parking meter enforcement, Brooks said that a more welcoming business atmosphere could potentially save the jobs of Nelsonville's many small business owners.

The ordinance will undergo a second reading, but the city must wait at least 30 days after its passing to begin removing the meters, Hall said. From there, the city must legally wait an additional 30 days to terminate the meter attendant because of a union contract, he added.

Should the ordinance pass at the next meeting, it would take full effect on Sept. 1.