Police looking to allay downtown traffic
YOUNGSTOWN -- Finding parking in downtown Youngstown is becoming more difficult these days. The reason is simple: New business is moving in, and so is the traffic.
Downtown merchants and other residents that attended Wednesday night's Youngstown Arts & amp; Entertainment District Association meeting heard how the city police department is trying to work with business owners.
According to Police Chief Robert Bush, merchants have complained their customers can't find parking in front of their establishment after 5 p.m.
"If a meter is expired or a car is illegally parked we are going to have to enforce it; before we could have looked the other way because there would be three or four empty spots. Those spots are gone now," said Bush.
Patrol car 109, which is responsible for patrolling downtown, will be getting some backup: officers on five new Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Bush says he never really thought there was a need for motorcycle patrols in the city until the construction of the Youngstown Convocation Center. Officers on the motorcycles will help traffic move smoothly in and out of the area when events are scheduled. The bikes were made possible through Harley-Davidson's "A bike for a dollar a year program." It is up to participating police departments to outfit the motorcycles with lights and sirens.
Bush also warned merchants to inform delivery truck drivers not to park on city sidewalks or they will be ticketed. The concern is that sidewalks that have been built over old city tunnels may collapse.
The chief also addressed the city's homicide rate.
"We don't take homicides lightly, but very few of them are random," he told about 60 people gathered at the meeting. "In most cases it turns out the homicide victim was involved in some illegal activity," he said.
YAEDA President Dennis Roller said despite merchants' concerns, it has not stopped businesses from moving into downtown. He told the crowd the latest entertainment attraction that will be coming to the area in the next coming weeks is an outdoor theater. It will be free to the public.
When it comes to new businesses, Roller said, "You can never have too many."