The problem of parking in Elkton’s central business district is an issue the Mayor and Commissioners have struggled with at recent meetings. Citizens and downtown merchants have expressed concern over what they say are overzealous enforcement practices and restrictive time requirements. More broadly, the board has examined the subject of the regulations, while bringing a few of their own complaints to the table.
A few years ago, especially before the county moved 200 office workers to the Delaware State Line and some businesses closed, the supply of available space was periodically tight at peak time. But as this migration occurred and other factors affected Main Street, the old WILMAPCO study that stated there was a problem in Elkton and recommended a parking garage became irrelevant for supply exceeded demand. In addition, a number of older historic buildings were demolished in the central business district, producing a cluster of surface parking areas.
From the town leadership’s standpoint, one commissioner reported receiving a ticket with 7-minutes remaining on the device, while another advised that enforcement personnel were resetting the meters. By that, he meant that if a vehicle pulled away and there was still time remaining, the officer would reset the meter so the next person parking there had to deposit coins. The query about that surprised the town administrator, who said he would look into it. We’ll see if we can find out what the investigation showed on this practice.
It is an important public policy matter since you don’t want unfriendly parking policies causing problems for motorists who want to visit Main Street without getting a ticket. But on the other hand, it wasn’t too many years ago that the merchants association complained the town wasn’t doing enough enforcement for many downtown workers parked on the street for the day, taking away valuable spaces for shoppers. At that time the downtown business climate was stronger and the merchants association would periodically visit town hall to point out that the lack of enforcement was hurting business.
Some of these problems are connected to another regulatory change, which came about as a result of complaints about the presence of meters as revitalization got underway. In response to those concerns and an attempt to create more traffic for businesses downtown, metered-parking was eliminated in most areas. Now only a few blocks around the courthouses and the hospital have meters. Appropriate policies and practices are important as the town struggles to strike the right balance in enforcement and regulation.