Money to enforce parking limits under discussion

An ordinance that would put time restrictions on downtown parking is set for an Aug. 10 vote, but selectmen this week indicated they are backing away from the plan.

During their second public hearing on the ordinance Monday night, board members said money is the sticking point.

“With the budget situation, I have trouble justifying $15,000 to enforce it,” board Chairman Tim Finan said during the hearing.

The goal is to help free up spots for businesses, especially restaurants, but enforcement costs are estimated to be about $15,000 a year for 25 hours a week.

Board members talked about possibly scaling back the area of enforcement to the south side of the Oval, which Town Administrator Guy Scaife said might resolve 80 percent to 90 percent of the problem caused by only about a dozen cars.

Most of the selectmen, however, opposed that idea, saying it would just move the problem to other areas.

Selectman Gary Daniels recommended that the police enforce an ordinance “to the best of their ability” without adding staff hours.

Police Chief Fred Douglas told the board his department could do that, but there is a logistical problem with enforcement between 5 and 7 a.m. as a result of the shift change and officers will sometimes not be free.

Selectman Kathy Bauer said if the town can’t fund enforcement, the plan is not going to work, but Scaife said there could still be a benefit to enacting an ordinance.

“There will be a benefit to being inconsistent,” he said. “You always have to be on your toes.”