Overnight winter parking ban remains in North Adams

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NORTH ADAMS — A Veazie Street resident wants the city to eliminate its overnight wintertime parking ban, but has yet to win over any city officials.

After an hour of debate Monday, the City Council's Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to keep the ban in a recommendation to the full council, which is expected to hear the issue later this month.

The Traffic Commission and Mayor Richard Alcombright also have signaled keeping the ban.

City ordinance stipulates that vehicles can't park on city streets between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. from November through April. Cars also cannot park on sidewalks, although the city can be lenient to allow residents a way to skirt the on-street parking ban.

Last month, Veazie Street resident Aleksandr Lisser wrote to the City Council asking it to revisit the ordinances. The council referred the matter to its Public Safety Committee and the Traffic Commission for their review.

The crux of Lisser's argument is that the city, if it wants to continue the overnight parking ban, has an obligation to provide a solution to the woes of the hundreds, if not thousands, of city residents with no access to off-street parking.

"The only solution [currently] is to just get tickets," Lisser said. "If you have a law, you provide a solution to obey it."

Committee members questioned whether or not it's the city's obligation to provide parking for residents, though they did not overnight parking passes can be purchased for the city-owned Center Street and St. Anthony's parking lots downtown.

Councilor Joshua Moran expressed sympathy for those without off-street parking, but said the city shouldn't tailor ordinances to specific situations instead of for the benefit of the city as a whole.

Lisser, who made his case before the Public Safety Committee on Monday, argues that the overnight parking ban serves no purpose on days it doesn't snow and plows aren't on the roads.

At the very least, Lisser asked for special exception stickers for residents without parking or free public parking provided by the city. He also said that it doesn't make sense to ban parking at night but not during the day.

Councilor Robert Moulton noted that the major difference is that if a car parked on the street is in someone's way during the day, the owner can usually be located and asked to move it. In the middle of the night, that's much more difficult.

Just moving vehicles out of the way during a snowstorm, as suggested by Lisser, was discussed by committee members. But even on a clear winter day, there are likely snow banks that further tighten the city's already-narrow streets, Moulton said.

In his experience with the North Adams Ambulance Service, Moulton said he has personally been on a call that was delayed by a car that was parked on a snowbank, impeding the ambulance's path.

Councilors Nancy Bullett and Lisa Blackmer, who are not on the committee but were in the audience, both noted that parking cars on sidewalks to skirt the overnight street parking ban can be a safety hazard to pedestrians. Resident Joseph Shaw said he was concerned about the damaged done to sidewalks by cars routinely pulling onto and dropping off of them.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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