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.”