Council amends parking ordinance

City Council approved the publication of a new, updated parking ordinance which addresses some of the concerns expressed by local residents, business owners and employees.On Monday evening, Council unanimously approved to publish the changes, which are available for public review. One of the major changes is that 24-hour parking will be permitted in all public parking lots. This includes lots that are metered as well as those designated permitted. The ordinance previously stated that city parking lots were to be closed from 2-6 a.m. A second change is that handicap parking shall be metered, whereas before those designated spots were free to park in.City Manager Dave Greene explained the same people have been utilizing the downtown handicap spots, many of whom are employed downtown. "This was also discrimination against everyone else who has to pay to park," said Councilman Bob Roberts.An additional change is that there will no longer be prohibited parking in certain locations or during certain days and hours. Also, the Depot Street Parking Garage will be regulated by permit parking and a pay-to-park machine. The machine's parking rates may be set by Council at will. The garage is available for parking 24 hours a day.Free parking is allowed in the North St. Marys Street parking lot daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A majority of these changes was prompted by input from local residents, senior citizens and business owners and employees during a special parking meeting held on Oct. 24. Mayor Sally Geyer and Councilman Dick Dornisch oversaw the meeting and reported back to Council on residents' concerns. During the meeting, residents offered potential solutions to the parking situation in downtown St. Marys.The special 2.5-hour parking meeting came out of residents' outcry at the Oct. 17 City Council meeting, when the council was to vote on an ordinance amending portions of the city code pertaining to areas of permitted parking, the closing of city lots and off-street parking from 2-6 a.m. and an increase in parking fines from $2 to $5.