Council to reverse course on Southeast parking restrictions

City council’s Traffic & Safety Committee agreed Tuesday to recommend parking be allowed on sections of the northeast side of Southeast Boulevard, including where no parking signs appeared earlier this year.

The vote was actually to speak with city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst about allowing parking on one side of the street where appropriate (not on the curves), but Committee Chairman Councilman Brian Whitehill noted if it doesn’t happen, council can impose its will if necessary to make it happen.

Whitehill said he’ll put the committee’s recommendation in writing and send it to Kenst to review and discuss with Mayor John Berlin, then wait for them to advise the committee on what they plan to do.

Southeast Boulevard resident Lewis Dowd had complained to city council earlier this month about increased speeding on the street since the no parking ban has been enforced. He had complained to council about the change in parking, saying vehicles had parked there since he moved into the area many years ago.

Whitehill had agreed to discuss the issue again in a committee meeting and Dowd was in attendance, saying there’s more traffic than ever before because there’s nothing to restrict movement.

Police Chief J.T. Panezott was asked by Whitehill if he had heard from his officers whether the parking ban had a positive effect or negative effect on travel on the street. He said nobody brought anything to his attention. If the police are told there’s no parking, the officers will enforce it. He said there had been 19 crashes on Southeast Boulevard, but the records didn’t break down where they occurred.

He said the police use that street a lot and they’ve heard the complaints about truck traffic and speeding and have been paying closer attention to it, but they have to see it to enforce it.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, who also attended the meeting but does not sit on the committee, backed up what Dowd was saying about people going way too fast because there are no obstacles to watch out for now. She also mentioned the truck traffic, which isn’t permitted on that street.

Whitehill asked if there was a signage issue regarding the trucks and Panezott said that’s possible.

Councilman K. Bret Apple, a committee member, recommended they talk to Kenst about allowing parking and if there’s no satisfaction, then go to formal action. Dowd questioned the idea of letting Kenst make that decision and said it should be looked at by council.

In other business, the committee agreed to recommend police department mutual aid agreements be written by the law director between the city and Perry Township and Goshen Township for council to consider.

Panezott said they’ve always operated under the premise that they had mutual aid with Perry Township, but couldn’t find anything in writing. He said he wanted to have something in writing to give the city some protection when the calls involve misdemeanors.

According to Panezott, the Ohio Revised Code already covers them regarding any liabilities involving felony cases and they’re also covered when requested to assist the Sheriff’s Office, but he said there’s nothing regarding misdemeanors. He said the department has never hesitated to assist Perry Township or other departments and won’t hestitate now.

“I think it’s just added protection for us,” he said, noting the city will always come first.

The Goshen Township chief had approached him earlier this year. When asked, Panezott said he was checking whether they need to include Green Township also since Green contracts with Goshen for police protection.