SALISBURY — Salisbury’s downtown will be losing five parking meters in front of 309 East Main Street to accommodate the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) re-location to that property.
The City Council’s discussion on the prosecution office’s parking also involved taking a look at nearby Lot 10 and the city could consider reducing the price to park in the often underutilized lot sometime in the future.
Now that the State’s Attorney’s Office has completed the move to 309 East Main Street, officials asked the city to remove the five parking meters that front the building. There seemed to be some confusion as to why the request to cut street parking was made among the City Council.
“I’m not sure what we’re gaining by eliminating those spots,” said Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
In her talks with the State’s Attorney’s Office, Mitchell got the impression that staff wanted to remove the street parking for security reasons. However, she failed to see how the reduction of five metered spaces in front of the building would have much of a security impact one way or the other.
The State’s Attorney’s Office may just want the parking cut for convenience, according to Council President Jake Day. The building houses both the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Child Advocacy Center and has substantial traffic coming and going from the front on a regular basis. Clearing out the parking spaces would allow for easier access and exits.
The council decided that while it would remove the meters the street parking would remain but only for emergency vehicles.
Besides street parking elimination, the State’s Attorney’s Office also asked for a reduced rate for employees to park at Lot 10, which is adjacent to the location. The current rate for the lot is $28 a year. At their previous location, using Lots 7 and 13, the State’s Attorney’s Office paid $9 per employee, which was covered by Wicomico County. The same rate was requested at the new location for Lot 10 for FY15 and FY16. After FY17, the proposal was the State’s Attorney’s Office would then pay the standard rate.
Mitchell questioned how fair it was to allow such a steep discount when there are other non-profit and governmental groups that pay the full cost to park, as do some residents living in the area.
“I think if you open this door you have to open it all of the way or not at all because it’s a slippery slope to define who gets it and who doesn’t,” she said.
Lot 10 is rarely full and Mitchell added that if the going rate of $28 is too burdensome then that’s something that the council should explore at future work sessions instead of only cutting one group a break.
The council eventually agreed to the $9 rate for the State’s Attorney’s Office but only for the remainder of this fiscal year. City staff has been asked to return to the council soon for an update on the parking changes as well as to whether handicap space needs might change with the removal of the street parking.