Addressing Parking Concerns in Easton

The following article was in today's edition of the Star Democrat. It discusses the parking concerns in Downtown Easton. The organizations addressing the concerns are the Easton Police Department, Easton Business Alliance and the Town of Easton. All three organizations hope to consistently work together to ensure Easton is a retail-friendly and parking-friendly community that meets the needs of our local patrons as well as our tourists. Over the course of the last several months, the three organizations have met to discuss ways to improve traffic flow in the retail district and develop strategies to address the concerns of merchant owners and local patrons. At this week's meeting, proposals were made to further the implementation of such strategies which will impact the overall concern of a "parking problem."

These strategies will:

  • aid in the improvement of traffic flow
  • assist our local community to understand the retail value of street parking
  • target repeat offenders by increasing fines

As stated on the street parking signs "limit 3 hour free parking in 1 or more designated spaces," the rule can be misinterpreted. It means a total of 3 free hours of parking in any given spot. The term "sliders" refers to the offenders who park in a given street space for 3 hours then slide to another street space; therefore, extending their allotted 3 hour stay. The police department confirms about 75 daily offenders...

Easton Business Alliance has proposed a marketing campaign to educate an understanding as to why traffic flow is a determinant for a thriving downtown community. Retailers are told daily by their patrons the concerns in street parking. Retailers are losing sales as a result. Consequently, retailers are closing their doors.

In an average commercial downtown, an on-street parking space generates $150-$300 daily in retail sales …

As I stated in the article below, “I think a lot of the employees may just not realize ... the impact of what they’re doing and how it hurts their neighboring business that do rely on those retail sales.” This campaign is not a divider among businesses, these issues are not addressed to call names and point fingers; it is to bring us together to support our neighbors, our friends - our local economy and to keep Easton a charming small town.

-Julie Phillips Corson, Executive Director of Easton Business Alliance

The following article is courtesy of the Star Democrat.

Posted: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 3:15 pm | Updated: 11:09 pm, Tue Aug 4, 2015.


EASTON — Easton officials are working toward freeing up parking for shops and restaurants downtown that rely on walk-in business.

Easton Police Department Chief David Spencer pointed to repeat parking rules offenders as being the main issue, and Easton Business Alliance Manager Julie Corson said it’s mainly employees of downtown businesses.

“I’ve been here 38 years and this isn’t a new problem,” Spencer said.

In Easton’s downtown three-hour parking area, vehicles are only allowed to be parked in that area for three hours, cumulatively, in any one given day. The zone includes the Harrison, Dover, Washington and Goldsborough streets square block and some areas immediately surrounding it, like Federal and West streets.

The objective is to free up those three-hour parking spots, which would allow visitors to easily find parking and go about their business in town and keep the cars flowing in and out of spaces.

“But what you end up having is you have some businesses uptown, and also the very same businesses, but the ones that don’t depend on walk-in traffic, a lot of their customers and/or owners and employees park in that area, and so you have competing interests,” Spencer said.

Spencer said the trouble Easton police officers have enforcing the “three-hour slider rule” is catching offenders in the act.

He said the offenders — drivers of about 75 to 85 vehicles — will park near their workplace and when the three hours are nearly up, they will try to “beat the system” and move their vehicles to a different spot nearby in the three-hour zone.

Fixing the problem creates its own set of issues. As Spencer said, “There’s no perfect solution.”

Ideas included reducing the three-hour parking limit to two hours, raising subsequent offense fines to deter repeat offenders, and removing some parking meters from select nearby lots to increase the number of free spots.

But, unless police find a way to strongly enforce the parking rule, the current repeat offenders will likely continue to move their cars before time expires, whether it’s a three-hour or two-hour zone, said councilman Al Silverstein.

“If we’re really trying to get at this issue, then what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to look at putting things into place that give you the enforcement tools necessary to look at it,” Silverstein told Spencer.

The hard part would remain proving when the offender left the space and moved to a different one, Spencer said.

“We know who the offenders are, we’re just trying to make it better for us to catch them, and when we do catch them we want to make it more impactful,” Spencer said.

Sliverstein and fellow councilman Ron Engle told Easton Business Alliance Manager Julie Corson to check with the the downtown’s restaurant owners and make sure they’re on board with changing the parking rule — specifically changing the time from three- to two-hour parking.

“I had somebody ask me and say, ‘You know, if I come in and meet some friends, go to lunch and then we want to go shopping, two hours is not a long enough time frame for us,’” Silverstein said.

In addition to taking parking meters out in select lots and improving enforcement, Silverstein suggested that if police parking enforcers know who the offenders are, that officials talk to the employee’s bosses to try to resolve the issue.

Corson said the Easton Business Alliance has a marketing campaign ready to launch to educate the local public on the issue.

“I think a lot of the employees may just not realize ... the impact of what they’re doing and how it hurts their neighboring business that does rely on those retail sales,” Corson said.

Other offenders just don’t care, Spencer said, adding that some have already told the department’s parking enforcers that it’s easier to take the $10 parking violation ticket and move their vehicles every few hours than park farther away and walk a few blocks to work. That’s one of the reasons Spencer said increasing subsequent violation fines — from $10 for the first offense, $25 for the second and $50 for the third — would likely work.

At the end of the special session, the town council agreed to have legislation drafted to work through the issue.

Follow me on Twitter @jboll_stardem.