Oxford fears backlash from parking policy

Staff Photo by Vinny Tennis ¬ ¬ File photo of a parking meter in West Chester

OXFORD – Some recent visitors found out the hard way the borough is increasing its emphasis on parking enforcement.

“There are a lot of dissatisfied folks who are receiving parking tickets,” Mayor Geoff Henry reported to borough council at its April 14 meeting.

The change to the parking ordinance was approved by council in January, but enforcement didn’t start until April 1. The meter hours were expanded to be enforced from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a two-hour limit.

Those attending the borough’s promotional First Friday events on April 4 were among the first to notice the increased emphasis on meter enforcement.

Henry said Oxford Mainstreet Inc., the organizer of First Friday, was reminded in advance about the new meter times and there was some talk of businesses posting signs to advise customers of the need to feed the meters, but he did not notice any signs on stores of First Friday.

“The bottom line is businesses could have put up signs,” council President Ron Hershey said.

Henry said comments posted on his Facebook page indicated some visitors were so upset by the tickets that they declared they will not come back to Oxford.

“Some feel by expanding the hours we’re going to prevent people from coming in and doing business,” he said.

Beyond that, there was the concern the borough did not do a good enough job of informing people of the change in meter hours. There was also discussion that the new signs on the meters that explain the hours are difficult to read, adding to the problem.

Council expects several business owners to attend their next meeting on April 21 to talk about parking and to ask for a greater police presence downtown. There is a particular concern about evenings on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.

“We put on part-time people for First Fridays, we do it for special events, if this is a concern of people, why can’t we put on people for the weekends,” Councilwoman Sue Lombardi asked.

Councilman Randy Teel took a different view, saying that the business owners should be more involved in the community.

“If they’ve got a problem with security, go to the Town Watch meetings. They have to get involved,” he said.

Next week, council is also expected to approve a motion setting policy for a historic borough of Oxford Facebook page. Henry will set up the page and administer it along with Borough Manager Betsy Brantner.