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Youngstown to install paid parking meters downtown

Published: Thu, March 8, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.


By David Skolnick



After much discussion — including criticism from Mayor Charles Sammarone about the time taken to make a decision — city council agreed to install 19 pay parking meters on a section of West Federal Street.

At Wednesday’s council finance committee meeting, held just before a council meeting, members asked why paid meters are needed on West Federal between Phelps and Market streets with the city-owned 20 Federal Place building in the heart of the location.

The decision by the administration to ask council’s approval of the meters came in reaction to complaints from downtown business owners that local workers were taking the parking space away from their customers.

Councilmen Paul Drennen, D-5th, and Mike Ray, D-4th, said better enforcement of downtown parking is needed more than the meters. The new meters would restrict vehicular parking in that area to an hour and cost $1 for that hour, but would be free after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends.

Currently the spots are free for up to two hours. But city officials and local business owners say employees working downtown park in the area and move every two hours to avoid getting tickets.

Sammarone explained the situation, but council members continued to ask questions.

Finally, Sammarone said he lost his patience.

“The thing that’s confusing is we have very important issues on the agenda, and we’re spending time on parking meters,” he said. “I’ve never heard so many questions about putting in parking meters.”

After the meeting, Sammarone said of council members that “there’s talk of millions of dollars [in budget hearings] and no questions are asked. I encourage council to ask questions, but not the same ones over and over again.”

Council approved installing the meters, which should be in place in a couple of weeks.

While no one said employees of VXI Global Solutions, a call-center at 20 Federal Place, were the main culprits of moving cars every two hours, some council members implied it.

“We need better enforcement of employees of 20 Federal Place; they have free parking at the Covelli Centre,” Drennen said.

VXI is the only company that receives free parking at the center from the city.

Interestingly, the next topic of discussion was extending a deal to bus VXI employees to and from the city-owned center’s parking lot and the company’s office space.

Council agreed to spend up to $60,000 through the rest of this year to pay for the VXI employees shuttle bus.

VXI employs about 625 people downtown, and the shuttle bus, in place since October, transports about 50 to 60 employees a day, said Sean T. McKinney, commissioner of the city’s buildings and grounds.

As part of an incentive to get VXI to come downtown, the city agreed to provide free parking for the company’s employees.

Between May and October 2011, VXI employees parked at a nearby deck with the company reducing its monthly rent to the city by $15,750, what would be $189,000 annually, to cover that cost.

Because the city owns the Covelli Centre, parking for VXI employees doesn’t cost anything. The shuttle-bus plan will save the city at least $140,000 for the rest of this year.


1lee(544 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Boy that's a good idea, every body else is taking them down ,keep it up and you will finally kill the city.RIP

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2PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Point of information not included in the article: enforcement will not take place after 5pm (per the Mayor).

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3ytownsteelman(659 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Why was it OK to have 2 hour parking before but only 1 hour now. Local restaurants will suffer. I'll go to MVR for lunch instead!

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4msweetwood(170 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago


Fourth graph: "The new meters would restrict vehicular parking in that area to an hour and cost $1 for that hour, but would be free after 5 p.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends."

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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5PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I can't speak for the Mayor but I was at the meeting: The Mayor stated that some business owners are claiming that employees who work downtown are getting downtown first and taking up all the free, 2-hour parking spots...only to shuffle spaces throughout the day. The (19) 1-hour meters are being installed (on W. Federal between 20 Federal Place and Oh Wow!) to ensure there is consistent turnover of at least those spaces. He stated that all of downtown used to have metered parking once upon a time. It worked. When downtown began to decline, they eliminated the meters to encourage people to come downtown again. The Mayor feels installing meters in this section of downtown is now needed.

Here's another point worth considering: Some people are advocating that Commerce Street should be considered for inclusion of two-lane parking due to its width and obvious demand for more parking in general. Many VXI workers park in the lot off Commerce already. Also, the Erie Terminal Building will soon be completed and with it 80 more people will be living downtown off this street. The parking on Commerce is not only needed, it would help to slow down traffic on what's soon (if not already) a very busy street / area of downtown.

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6UNCOMMONSENSE(490 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Now they need to start ticketing the cars that double park in front of 20 West Federal Place and cause traffic to backup through the Wick Ave intersection. These idiots block the road like they own it.

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7DwightK(1358 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I see it as a good sign that downtown is so busy and has so many workers that parking is an issue.

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8dd933(288 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

It's only 19 spaces! We're not changing the world here folks. Take the bus!

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9PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

@Mark Sweetwood: Whoops - my mistake. Thanks for the heads up, Mark.

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10NoBS(2175 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The city is going to make a potential $19/hour on the new parking meters. That's $1/hour times the 19 meters. Let's be generous and say the meters will be enforced between 7 am and 5 pm. That's 10 hours. $190 per day.

For that, they risk alienating potential downtown customers, who are already aggravated (legitimately or not) over the parking situation downtown. What's wrong with telling employees downtown to not park in the spots intended for customers? This game of moving cars from one spot to another every hour or two is ridiculous, and does nothing for any potential customers or clients, who can just as easily head on out of town to the suburbs.

What I find annoying is the YMCA patrons who park along Commerce St. and even block half of the Walnut St. intersection. It seems there's always a large van or other vision-obstructing vehicle parked overlapping the corner, actually blocking part of Walnut St. It's impossible to see around it until you're well out into the intersection. The city could install parking meters along both sides of Commerce St and enforce parking laws there. Aside from the Y, the businesses along that stretch have parking lots.

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11Superstar7(122 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Almost EVERYTIME I'm downtown, EVERYTIME I walk downtown, an urban dweller confronts me for money. LICENSE THEM.
$10./day first month, $20./day second. $30/day third. Three month max., then a $100. additional yearly fee unless they clean up the streets they litter.
Post: urban dwellers prohibited from 5:00 AM- 2 AM, 7 days.

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12peggygurney(404 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I guess I'm the odd man out. I don't mind paying $1 for parking at all. It simply means that I won't have to waste gas (which is significantly higher) looking for a parking spot, or paying to park in the paid lots which are still a couple of blocks away.

IMO, $1 per hour for a convenient parking space is cheap.

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13peggygurney(404 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Superstar7 - really? I've not been approached by one of them, ever, and I'm downtown 4-5 times per week.

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14semick(15 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

LOL urban dwellers confronting....Do you really mean beggers?

Most "urban dwellers" I see in downtown Youngstown are engaged in eating, shopping, jogging, working, etc and not begging...

How can you tell the "urban dweller" lives in an urban area or didn't just drive in from the suburbs to pan handle?

I find $1 an hour quite reasonable to assure that I have a parking space. The meters should allow parking up to 2 hours for $2 though for those who want to shop more, eat and drink more, or do whatever..Most of the meters in other cities take visa, mastercard, and do allow 2-4 hours.

The alternative is marking tires and putting a boot on violators and charge them $50-$100 to get the boot off... I think Youngstown is being very considerate.

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15FormerRes(39 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The City of Youngstown is going to PAY people to park on its streets? What a stroke of genius.

THAT should generate some business downtown.

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16CountryGirl51(215 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I suggest if you are parking at one of those meters to take a stop watch with you. If your with your Atty., eating dinner, etc...You will have to excuse yourself and inform them that you need to make a deposit in a meter as you dont want to get a ticket :)

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17vinglass(283 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Doesn't it bother anyone that public workers were leaving their jobs every two hours to move their cars to a new spot?? Now that's real productivity! Only in the public sector could you get away with this and not be fired.

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18vinglass(283 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

My mistake... It doesn't say public employees

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19foxyglo(372 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

That is pure greed, we come and service the downtown area and we have to pay to park.We go to court sit there for hours and then end up paying fines and then com out and there is a ticket. Youngstown stinks. I go to Pa all the time and down on state street there is free parking. Then you wonder why all the businesses is leaving from down there.Some would rather drive a couple miles to the mall and then pay for their high priced things than pay to park and shop cheap.

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20franc004(71 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Wow, every city in the country has metered parking, only in Youngstown do people complain, complain, complain. It's part of the mentality that plagues the city--we are so grateful (desperate) that people will come downtown we must hand over free parking. That said, a dollar an hour seems kind of steep to me and I wonder how that compares with say Pittsburgh or Akron rates.

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21NoBS(2175 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

franc, you must be new around here. The parking meters were taken out to help entice people to come downtown in the first place. The problem is that the downtown employees hog the parking spaces all day, and upon the city's notification that the free parking is for two hours the employees now go out and have a Chinese Fire Drill and exchange parking spaces every two hours. It would be laughable if it weren't so ridiculous. Now the city can't come up with any better plan for keeping the spots open for customers than to install $1/hour meters. This will do nothing but cause the downtown employees to run out every hour and feed the meter - there still won't be any convenient spaces for customers.

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22PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Open up Commerce Street for double-sided, designated parking. This will help greatly.

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23CongressWatcher(202 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

I am not complaining about the parking meters. I probably just won't go downtown very much. No big deal to me. If it was my decision, I would probably spend the 60 thousand a year on demolitions of some old buildings and providing more free parking rather than busing employees from remote parking spots. This area spends money on WRTA and they don't even run on Sundays. They run Saturday schedules on government holidays. Therefore, the mass transit into town runs on government schedules while they want to use for people working in the private sector. Should I go on?

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24navygirl(14 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Why do people complain about homeless begging for food/money? Have you never been to a downtown in a major city? You don't think there are homeless everywhere?

My only problem with the meters is they should be longer not just 1 hour. Most people have stuff to do that takes longer than an hour. Make it 2 hours or 3 hours max.

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25CongressWatcher(202 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"I would probably spend the 60 thousand a year on demolitions of some old buildings and providing more free parking"

"We've already demolished WAY TOO MUCH to make room for more parking downtown! This isn't the suburbs; every building doesn't need to be surrounded by its own parking lot."

Either demolish more stuff or improve mass transit. Its one or the other.

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26redeye1(4986 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Hey everyone, if someone would want a job that works from 7:00 am until 5:00 pm. Just put on a sign that's states you will keep an eye on the meters for a small fee. Tell people you are cheaper then a ticket. The democratic party might have just created someone a job.

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27CongressWatcher(202 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

that is the idea carlstaatz and ianaceck. Think outside the box. Perhaps if people were allowed to speak at city council meetings without needing to make a 5 minute reservation in advance, city council might get some good suggestions to act on. As it stands now, though they are very well paid, it seems the can't really take the time to hear freely from their constituents and affected citizens that work in the city. I truly don't like to be negative, but this policy of not being able to speak at council meetings is truly a negative thing and shows disdain for the citizens that vote them into office. IMHO

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