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Parking Problems Discussed, No Solution Yet

Parking has long been an issue in Dormont, and council says there’s no quick fix.

There are a lot of things in Dormont that should be given a second look, according to council President Bill McCartney, and parking is close to the top of that list.

A lot of things need to change—especially with parking—he said, but unfortunately, it won’t happen overnight.

, as well as the sale of parking permits to residents and employees, were the main concerns of the public at Monday’s agenda meeting.

Sergio Pampena, owner of , told council he is worried about the number of spaces in the lot behind his West Liberty Avenue salon that are either leased or used by permit holders. Of the 10 spaces in the lot, four are leased by and the other six often are often used by employees of various local businesses who hold parking permits, he said.

“It seems if anything, it’s very unethical and very unconstitutional to sell public property,” Pampena said. “When I look over all the regulations here, I don’t see where in Dormont law you’re allowed to do such a thing without the whole entire board of council passing it.”

Pampena asked council who authorized the leasing of public parking spaces, who set the price—$100 per month, per space—and under what authority the policy was allowed.

Councilwoman Laurie Malka said borough parking lots have been discussed in meetings over the past year. The issue arose because the metered parking lot at was usually full and bank customers couldn’t use it. When the bank approached the borough about leasing two spaces for customers, the borough opened the policy to all local businesses to be fair, she said.

The problem there, business owners at the meeting said, is that they weren’t notified that they had the option to lease spaces.

Malka said she thought business owners had been informed, although she didn’t know through what means. Pampena said he wasn’t aware of the policy until he returned to work after the New Year and saw that Dormont Appliance had leased spaces.

Cassie Gillen of on West Liberty Avenue said she did not receive notification, either. Alan Scheimer, who owns Dormont Appliance and has leased parking spaces, said he found out about the policy from attending a zoning commission meeting where it was mentioned, not because he received formal notification.

He said his store employs between 12 and 15 people each day, and that several of those people park in Brookline and walk to the store to avoid taking spaces from customers. Pampena said he shuttles his employees to his salon for the same reason.

McCartney said there is no overnight solution to the parking situation. There were several questions, including those posed by Pampena, that he admitting not having answers to on Monday night, and said the issue needed to be looked at in detail. He said he didn't think any more parking spaces should be leased until the issue was resolved, although no vote was made on the issue on Monday.

The issue should first go to the Transportation and Parking Planning Commission, McCartney said. When that group had studied the borough’s public parking lots and reviewed any unintended consequences a parking policy could create, then a new policy could be developed and adopted.

He said he hoped to receive more public input about parking problems businesses faced—especially those that resulted unintentionally from the leasing policy.

“Given the situation in parking here, everyone’s probably not going to be happy with it,” he said. “That would be my guess, but I could be wrong.”

George Guest January 31, 2012 at 11:25 AM
They need to somehow build a parking garage. I don't know where the money would come from, but they need to do something.
Ed M January 31, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Selling metered parking spots is just increasing the parking problem in the Dormont business district. This needs to be stopped.
Carroll Banker January 31, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Why not build a garage on the lot next to Papa Johns or maybe a lot on the passive park area?
MSgt. John DeLallo January 31, 2012 at 02:56 PM
The subject of a parking garage, with entry on West Liberty, and exit on the next block, said building to be placed on the parking lots that front West Liberty next to Tony Molinaro's place of business, and behind the shops on Potomac, has been broached. How do you pay for it? No doubt a municipal bond would be required. Its been done in many communities across the Commonwealth. I moved to Dormont in 1974 and parking was absurd then. Remember, when Dormont was incorporated in 1909, the Model T had only been introduced in October of 1908. Spacing houses out far enough to provide driveways and garages simply was not an issue, as everyone used public transit or the shoe leather express. My Dad used to tell me "buy real estate, they ain't making any more of it", a pearl of wisdom he borrowed from Will Rogers. Sorry guys, but the only answer here is to go UP!
DSA January 31, 2012 at 03:07 PM
How about going down, John? Would an underground lot work? As far as paying for it, I think the borough manager has found grant opportunities in the past, I wonder if any exist for parking garages. I'd had to see a parking garage go up in our already crowded neighborhood but Lebo pulled it off and it doesn't look too bad. Another idea might be to have Cochran flip part of the bill if they're eager to expand in our area. I think in general there is a decent amount of public parking in Dormont, the problem is that the signage stinks and so no one knows where it is.
MSgt. John DeLallo January 31, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Some very talented boro managers, and some temporary boro managers, and some not so good boro managers, have had plenty of opportunity to resolve the parking issue. Plenty of mayors and councils, too. Bear in mind that this is not something that happened last week. The permit system helped a lot when I lived on Tennessee Avenue. The street was nothing more than a park 'n ride for PAT bus patrons. Dormont needs more, though, to really resolve the parking issue. So far as going underground, you have to get to bedrock to set the pillars, and you may gain a few levels of parking underground, but going up would be less excavation and less cost. Asking businesses to participate won't likely generate enough cost benefit for them. I mean, how many cars would Cochran have to sell to finance a garage? How many beers would Cain's have to serve? Schools float bonds, as do other municipal entities. I know, I own several tax free municipal bonds. With the austerity movement catching on in Washington, grants might be a tough nut to crack. And oh, by the way, your already crowded neighborhoods already contain some public parking. Expanding parking by building a garage doesn't change the footprint at all. I don't think eminent domain will take your house for a parking garage. If it were properly run, perhaps PAT could build a garage, but last I heard, they are broke.
Tim January 31, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Previous councils have studied parking in Dormont and taken steps to provide some relief. More than 20 years ago, Dormont bought the building where Papa John's is located and the houses behind it on Espy. The hope, find a developer to use those properties and the parking lots next to them to build a parking garage and office building. The cost per space in the parking garage made the project unattractive. They were evenually auctioned off to get them back on the tax rolls and relieve the borough of maintenance on properties it didn't use. More recently, two offices/houses at the corner of Hillsdale and W Liberty were purchased, again for a parking lot. Again, the issue was cost...we now have a park with a couple of spaces. As for metered lots, the purpose of the parking meter is to 'turn' the spot (although the ancillary revenue generated does help). The goal is to free the space from one all-day user allowing it to be used by multiple people throughout the day. Leasing meter spaces defeats that purpose; instead of the spaces benefitting the entire business district, they become a problem for the business district as only one benefits. As John said, Dormont came before the car. We use our cars when we could walk/take public transit and many of us own more than one vehicle. he problem is our own excess, not Dormont's lack of space. Also, the municipality has no requirement to provide parking for residents or businesses. It's ours to fix not council's.
Bobby February 01, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Tim you are right. Most people have more than one auto, can't really say car anymore. Most renters that choose not to rent a garage even if one is available. So if you were to count the spaces and count units we would have no spaces left with only counting the spaces used for rentals. But council is going to take into consideration renting permits to employees of business on side streets. Which are streets that have permit parking for its residents. A gentlemen from the appliance store was at the meeting and stated that he has thirteen to fifteen employees. I would assume that they would possibly get spots on Illinois Avenue, I don't think that residents would relinquish that many spots that they have fought that hard to get permitted. And as you are aware just how many businesses that are on West Liberty and Potomac Avenues, And what makes employees for a business allowed to park anywhere and people like myself who have lived in Dormont most of my fifty- five years not allowed to park anywhere in the boro? I think that the new council is going to have to take a good long look at this problem. It might need to all be scrapped.
Linda Lippert February 01, 2012 at 01:05 AM
I realize that many of the houses in Dormont don't have parking but I have noticed that there are very many unused garages in the alleys behind the houses. I think that if most of them are cleaned up and actually used, that would free up many of the street spaces. I don't know why people don't want to park on their own property.
Lou Pietosi February 01, 2012 at 08:31 AM
This is going to be an ongoing problem in a town of this size. Asking Cochran to pay for it when their employees park in their own lot would make no sense to them I'm guessing. I do agree that people living in Dormont choose to drive a block to the store rather than walk like we used to "back in the old days" LOL. But using ANY part of Dormont Park is a BAD idea! That park should remain a park forever! The borough can't afford building a garage and going underground would be even more expensive. Reading all these posts shows me that this will be an ongoing issue for many years. Having said that, I've always found a space on my many visits to my old hometown! What about leasing spaces during the weekdays at the Church by the Hollywood Theater? They are in need of financial support I'm sure. That wotld solve the "employee" parking issue in that area at least. Good Luck folks!
Ed M February 01, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I totally disagree with leasing any parking spots to any business. Paying Dormont UP to open up their lot to the public during the week is a good idea or use that lot for employee only parking for all the businesses on Potomac. A parking garage would help but other than the lot beside Cochran, where else would you put one?
Mike February 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I have a real problem with parking spaces owned by the borough (aka all of us) now being off limits to because they were leased out to a private business.
seanpgh February 01, 2012 at 04:08 PM
When they brought down the building on the corner of Hillsdale and West Liberty Ave I was certain that this would be made into a parking lot; ideal location, could probably put 20 spaces there. Instead they put up two benches where our kids could now sit and smoke. Genius!
Ed M February 01, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Not everything needs to be paved. While there is a parking issue in Dormont, the passive park should be left as is. It's nice to have some green space on the main drag.
Jeffrey Fabus February 01, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I don't know that anyone has the answer to the Parking problems in Dormont, residential or commercial but if you would like to be involved in the discussion you should contact the borough and find out when the Traffic & Parking Planning Commission meets and bring your ideas to them. The parking lots are a major source of income for the borough pulling in over $ 300,000 in 2011 (December 2011 Budget report). Whatever the solution it is: A. going to be expensive to fix and B. Never going to make everyone happy. One idea I do like that was mentioned was talking to the church on Potomac Ave to open that lot to permitted vehicles and the church can make the revenue. From that lot it is just a short walk to West Liberty. Employees from The Vasta down to Eat N Park and all of Potomac could utilize that lot. Next, look at the middle section of West Liberty Ave. up to CVS and again, talk to the church on Alabama to permit their lot and they can make a few bucks and finally the top end of West Liberty. There are plenty of lots there we could utilize or go to the church on Peermont Ave to lease spaces. Discussions could take place on revising the rules on installing parking pads in people’s back yards. There are a lot of things that could be done but it is going to take a level of cooperation on everyone’s part.
Mike February 01, 2012 at 06:18 PM
With springtime around the corner I would hope that some of these residents with garages would clean them out so a car or cars could use them. I see so many garages chock full of junk while the resident's car is out on the street. Doesn't make a darn bit of sense to have a car out in the elements while you keep junk nice and dry!
John Spoon February 01, 2012 at 07:37 PM
I have elderly neighbors who cant walk from their spots in the alley because of the conditions of their land (mostly steep hills) so they park out front where it's flatter. From what I've seen in the years that I've lived in Dormont is that the alleys are rarely, if at all plowed/treated in the winter time. Last few winters I park on the street just so i can get my car out.
Daniele Ventresca February 02, 2012 at 04:32 AM
I am not sure if anyone has noticed, but most of the alley's in the borough are in very poor shape and are not cleared of snow/ice in the winter by the borough until all other streets have been treated. My alley is difficult to maneuver during the best conditions (narrow, dead end, up a hill) so if you add anything else to the mix, it is simply not worth parking there.
Mike February 02, 2012 at 08:01 PM
My alley is in good shape and is plowed/salted regularly. To not use off street parking because it is difficult seems silly. The easiest solution would be to pull right up onto the lawn, past the sidewalk and step right onto my front porch. However, the easiest way isn't always the best way.
Leigh February 02, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Daniele, whether your alley is narrow and on a hill, it is worth using. If everyone felt like that there would be no parking on any streets. Feelings like that just add to the problem. Maybe if you have access you should use it and help your neighbors who do not have off street parking.
Leigh February 03, 2012 at 02:45 AM
John, I understand the alleys get done after the roads are done but my alley does get done. But I will admit that there are times I will not park in my alley if I have to leave early for work in the morning when a storm is predicted.
Ed M February 03, 2012 at 12:18 PM
I have to park on the street. No pad or driveway or garage. There is an alley behind my house but it is a paper street. People that have off street parking should use it. It would help alleviate the parking problem.

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