State denies chance for parking changes in Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The state has squashed any chance of compromise for parking changes in Harrisburg. A spokesperson with the agency behind the parking transaction said there is no room for changes.

Getting quick parking tickets, paying more at the meter, and longer hours; these were some of the gripes from patrons during the past year.

Earlier this month, Mayor Eric Papenfuse promised to fight for reasonable changes to Standard Parking’s policies.

“We can make a financial argument that will bring about some of the changes that people want to see in the parking system,” he said.

The mayor wants to analyze the parking revenues against the hours to see if lower rates could yield more. Papenfuse wanted strict enforcement to ease up and called for better overall customer service.

Steve Kratz, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA), said, “The parking operations and rates are directly tied to the revenues generated for debt service payments and payments to the Harrisburg Parking Authority, the City and other requirements, so any changes would have to ensure that these obligations continue to be met. We certainly recognize the concerns expressed and PEDFA will continue working with the parking manager, City, business community and Parking Advisory Board on this issue.”

Given that information, Vernon Kitchen said there is nothing people can do but to follow the rules.

“As a driver, you need to be more vigilant as where you are and how much time you have on the clock,” he said.

Keith Goldstein said he understand people need to pay to park in a city. He said there should be some room for reasonable changes.

“There should be a way to do it cheaper for a limited amount of time,” he said.

PEDFA also announced 2014 projected revenues missed the mark.

The first year parking revenues generated $16 million, about three million shy of its $19 million target. Meter revenues, short 25 percent, generated $2 million.

Goldstein said talk among downtown business owners is they were light in their revenues this year.

“They say they’ve lost a lot of businesses because people are going elsewhere where they don’t have to pay to park,” he said.

Kitchen said he does not expect someone to renegotiate a contract after one year.

“They gotta pull their money from somewhere,” he said. “If it means a parking spot here on the street instead of having to pay to park in the garage, I’m OK with that.”

Mayor Papenfuse, who was visiting the White House on Friday, was reached via text message. He said he still plans to fight for fair parking changes at a public meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

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