City looking to bring meters, fines into 21st century

Parking meters and fines are a decades-old problem that the Dunkirk Common Council is trying to fix.

Last month a resolution to have inoperable parking meters bagged was tabled following discussion about a temporary solution to have the seven identified broken meters replaced with working ones in city hall’s back parking lot.

The resolution made a reappearance at the most recent meeting with Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Civiletto saying he was unsatisfied with promises of a fix in two weeks’ time.

“I would still like to get them bagged whether they’re confused or not. This has been going on for four or five years and I’m not going to guarantee that in two weeks this is going to be fixed. I don’t know if in two weeks we’re going to get a huge blizzard and this isn’t going to happen, so I’m not going to trust everyone to get this fixed and I’d still like to get this (done),” he said, also noting the extra effort put forth in the clerk’s office when a meter doesn’t work or tickets that must be refuted.

Resolution 17 was taken off the table and approved 3 to 2, with Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan and Councilman-at-Large Andy Woloszyn opposed for reasons of possible public confusion as well as being content with the promised solution.

Resident Steve Rees spoke up to propose an alternate idea.

“I’m proposing that all meters in use be removed from further use in their curb/street location. … I propose replacing meters with a system of free parking with enforcement that utilizes a parking control officer, not necessarily a police officer, walking a prescribed beat of controlled parking areas every two hours, chalking tires, ticketing vehicles that have been parked over time. A program of this type could potentially result in a larger income for the city with more consistent enforcement and significantly reduced maintenance costs. A system of this type would result in the city being more visitor friendly, an outcome vitally necessary for this community,” he said.

After the meeting, Mayor Willie Rosas explained he also has a long-term plan to find funding to replace the 1960s-era meters with new meters that take credit cards as well as cash, as seen in cities like Buffalo.

In addition to bringing meters into the 21st century, the city is looking to do the same with parking fines.

The current fine structure — which charges $6 for meter violations and $10 for overnight and all other parking violations — has not been changed since the 1980s.

Resolution 21 would increase those fines to $10 and $20 respectively. Alternate parking and handicapped parking violations would remain at $20 and $50 respectively.

The resolution was tabled for a public hearing to be held Feb. 20 at 5:20 p.m.

Resolution 25 creating a local law to establish the responsible bidder requirement was also tabled for a public hearing on the same date at 5:25 p.m. More time for public comment on either hearing will be afforded if needed.

The Common Council workshop will be held at 5 p.m. on Feb. 20 and the meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m., following the public hearings.