McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 4, 2013

To park, or not to park ... that is the question

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — It took only four months being in Enid for Jordan Morris to bring her case to the city commission.

She came here in May and works at a downtown law firm. Her issue could be a common one for people who spend the day working — and parking — in the heart of Enid.

“About four times a day, I’m forced to re-park my car so I don’t get a parking citation,” Morris told the Enid City Commission at the end of a meeting in September.

Nearly every street-side parking space in downtown is controlled by a two-hour time limit. That’s fine for shoppers and customers of those businesses on Independence, Grand, Broadway and others. But for Morris, her co-workers and likely everyone who doesn’t own a private parking space, avoiding a ticket can mean relocating several times each day.

A ticket is $10, or $20 if paid late.

“It’s kind of like a pebble in your shoe,” Morris said when reached last week. “And then you actually have to pay for that? The pebble turns into a nail.”



Permitting

In her address to members of the commission, Morris suggested a parking permit solution. Other cities have adopted this, including Jacksonville, Fla., where Morris interned.

“To me, it seems a little bit unreasonable. There’s some kind of alternative that can be made there that could benefit the [city’s] income,” she said.

Since that commission meeting, Morris said she hasn’t heard back from anyone at the city about her proposal. City of Enid spokesman Steve Kime queried city leadership Thursday about the issue, and their response leaves the door open for possible future policy set by the commissioners and mayor.

“The commission hasn’t directed any action on this topic,” Kime said.

During the meeting on Sept. 17, Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen noted the issue isn’t a new one.

“I served previously on this commission in the late ’80s, and we had exactly the same issue brought up at that time,” he said. “This is something we’ve been working on for a long time.”



Downtown business

On Independence, The Felt Bird only has one employee vehicle that parks outside. Owner Riley Jantzen has become accustomed to moving his car at least once each day.

“That’s a typical thing, because we’re all just adjusted to it,” he said.

Creating a permit policy would be more convenient, Jantzen said, but he noted that the city may have more pressing issues to deal with.

On the other side of downtown, Boomerang Diner manager Matt Johnson said that during a rush, his employees occasionally don’t have time to move their cars.

“It has happened when we’re too busy to go move our cars. There’s nothing we can really do but pay the ticket,” he said.

Johnson said he’s open to solutions.

“Maybe if there was one street we could park on, or maybe a public parking lot that we could walk two or three blocks, even,” he said. “There’s some cities that will give business owners passes they can give their employees, to where you don’t have to pay te ticket. You’re going to end up paying more than that in fines anyway.”

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, parking spaces outside the Enid News & Eagle are time-controlled and could be affected by the creation of a parking permit for downtown workers. The reporter of this story, Dale Denwalt, has also incurred two parking tickets this year for leaving his vehicle in one spot for more than two hours.)