Berlin is taking the right step in spending some money on a parking evaluation.
The study, which was put out to bid this week, will also include a look at mobility within the town. That will surely come back with a conclusion that many town streets are too narrow, and that parking should consequently be prohibited along many roads in town. Other than those conclusions, I’m not sure what the mobility aspect will offer of consequence.
The meat of the study will clearly have to do with parking, which is not a simple matter in Berlin. It will need to dig into whether the town has a true parking shortage.
Parking is a major problem in Berlin during special events, on the weekends in December when shopping is at its peak and on cloudy days in the summer season. That equates to about 45 days a year in my estimation when parking demand surpasses supply.
A look around town on Tuesday afternoon – a sunny summer day in July – revealed plenty of available parking spaces along Main Street as well as in the main parking lot situated between Main and William streets. The same could be said last Saturday night.
I live on Washington Street, which is a short walk from the downtown corridor. Maybe a dozen times a year vehicles park on our street to shop, eat or attend special events. It’s a rarity to see vehicles parked on our street.
That leads to the question: Is parking only a major problem during special events? I think the answer is yes. If that’s the conclusion of this evaluation, the town will need to accept the findings and continue to look at creative ways to address these high-demand periods. One thing is for sure the answer is not shuttling people from parking lots away from the downtown core because the majority of people no longer want to be separated by a great distance from their vehicles. It’s just not going to work.
There was a bunch of silly talk at City Hall this week about Ocean City’s new parking system and the possibility people may be leaving early from the Boardwalk because they are uncomfortable with the new parking system.
Ocean City Councilman Wayne Hartman broached the subject, saying, “I’ve heard from a couple of business owners on the Boardwalk many visitors feel like they’re being rushed back. Before, they would come on the lot and pay when they left they paid for how much time they spent. Now, they are paying for two hours or three hours or whatever, and they are rushing back when the time is up.”
While it’s impossible to conclude half way through the season whether there’s any merit to what Hartman is saying, there clearly is a need for more education on the system. The easiest way to use the new parking system is to download the Park Mobile app, which allows the user to easily add time as needed. It’s a simple system to those utilizing the app. However, the fact is there is a large percentage of visitors who are not app savvy and will never use it. They will prefer to use the kiosks.
In response to Hartman’s concerns, Mayor Rick Meehan said, “At the end of the summer, we need to have a recap for how the new parking system worked. We can look at any nuances we need to address and any new ideas can be revisited at that time.”
The bottom line is all the concerns being expressed about the parking system are expected. It’s new and people are uncomfortable with it. That will change over time as familiarity grows. It’s important to remember the old parking system was full of critics as well, especially those who had to pay extra money as they waited in line to get checked out by the booth attendant.
Maryland’s Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to President Trump this week asking for Capital Gazette Editor Wendi Winters to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Conspicuously absent from the letter was Republican Congressman Andy Harris. It appears support from Harris came after the letter was sent. Therefore, Harris penned a private correspondence to President Trump in support of the designation.
“As Senators and Representatives of the State of Maryland, we urge you to consider Wendi Winters for this great distinction,” the Democrats’ letter read. “As you may know, Wendi was among the five victims who lost their lives in the mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom on June 28, 2018, in Annapolis, Maryland. According to eyewitness accounts from survivors, Wendi armed herself
with the closest weapons at hand – her trash and recycling bins – and charged the shooter, shouting for him to stop. It is believed that Wendi’s actions distracted the shooter enough to enable several of her coworkers to escape. …. She died not only protecting her colleagues, but in defense of the First Amendment.”
It would seem only a matter of time before Winters receives the designation.