July 13, 2006
By ANNIE TASKER, Courant Staff Writer
In the wake of complaints from residents that they were being unfairly ticketed for parking close to their homes, city officials have removed parking meters from Seymour Street.
But resident Teresa Baez said the move has been a mixed blessing.
"I feel great," she said. "We all feel good about what we accomplished. But nothing has really changed."
Now that the meters have been removed, she said, Hartford Hospital visitors and employees have occupied spaces to the point that residents can't park on the street until the cars leave around 5 or 6 p.m.
"We are in the same situation," Baez said. "We have nowhere to park our cars."
For now, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., there is two-hour parking on the east side of Seymour Street, where the meters used to be, and an emergency tow zone for Hartford Hospital on the other side.
But Hartford Parking Authority director James Kopencey said it is only a temporary solution. Long-term, he said, the city should look at implementing a residential parking permit program.
The authority, he said, is currently looking into the parking patterns of Seymour Street residents and employees and visitors at the nearby hospital to see how a permit program might work for the street.
Seymour Street residents held a meeting last month to confront Hartford officials, saying the city has gone back on an unwritten understanding that it would not ticket local residents who park in the street's metered spaces.
The deal with the city goes back three years, when the meters were installed. Residents say city Department of Public Works director Bhupen Patel assured them at the time that the parking situation would be rectified by issuing parking permits to Seymour Street residents, Baez said.
Patel said he made no promises about immediately implementing a permit program, but said a moratorium on meter enforcement on Seymour Street was put in place until a permit program for local residents could be created.
But, the residents said, when the Hartford Parking Authority took over meter enforcement in February, cars started getting multiple tickets a day for parking on Seymour Street. Patel said the HPA likely did not know about the moratorium.
The issue came to a head at the June 28 meeting, when Seymour Street residents demanded that the parking authority stop ticketing residents who park in the street's metered spaces.
The residents made a series of demands, including a refund of money paid for parking tickets, the voiding of all outstanding tickets for residents of Seymour Street within 30 days, and the issuance of parking permits.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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