Marietta City Council discusses parking issue

MARIETTA – City council discussed ways to exempt city residents from 72-hour on-street parking limits after a Fifth Street resident expressed concern over the ordinance at Wednesday’s streets and transportation committee meeting.

“It seems unreasonable. A resident parked in front of his or her home ought not to be subject to a parking fine,” said Charles Ditchendorf.

Ditchendorf has lived at his Fifth Street residence for 18 years and was not aware of the 72-hour rule until he recently received a ticket, he said. It makes the policy seem inconsistent, he said.

Marietta City Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp insisted the enforcement is not inconsistent, but has been amped up in recent weeks due to numerous complaints about Marietta College students taking up an exorbitant amount of street parking.

“The college has tripled the price of their parking passes this year,” he said.

In addition, street parking on Fifth, Sixth, Tupper and other nearby streets is closer to campus than some campus parking lots, prompting students to use city parking more frequently, said Hupp.

Ditchendorf questioned what residents would do if taking a vacation.

“I talked to several policemen. Their solution was to have someone move your car while you’re gone. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Ditchendorf proposed having the city sell resident passes, which are used in other Ohio cities to give residents exemptions when parking near their home.

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, questioned the administration of the passes, asking whether college students would be able to purchase them and whether they would be city wide.

“If you live on Fifth Street and have a parking pass, would you be able to come over and park in Harmar for (as long as you want)?” he asked.

Marietta City Law Director Paul Bertram cited Columbus, which issued zoned parking passes to residents.

But that could create confusion in enforcement, said Vukovic.

Councilman Steve Thomas, D-3rd Ward, asked if the tags would require extra money for enforcement and what a reasonable price point would be.

Also discussed by streets and transportation and the finance committee was a proposal by Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, to expedite a project to reinstall a duckbill valve and head wall on the Ohio River near the Marietta Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The valve helps prevent high water from affecting Pike Street and Eighth Street, he said.

P.A.E. & Associates, which is working on phase two of the wastewater treatment plant renovation, has some of the heavy equipment needed to fix the duckbill and head wall, which has deteriorated beyond use since being installed five years ago.

The company put in a bid of $27,205, which includes funding to protect the River Trail in that area, said Lambert. Two other contractors were unable to put together complete bids because they would be unable to secure the equipment at a reasonable price, he said.

Vukovic questioned if the city had any recourse against whoever designed or installed the initial structure. Bertram, Hupp and Lambert countered that could be just as costly.

“What we’re saying is ‘Come do business with the city and if you do it wrong, don’t worry, the city will take care of it,'” said Vukovic.

Lambert said the first step in exploring legal recourse was to have an outside firm evaluate the project.

“I’ll get estimates. We’re probably talking $175 to $200 an hour,” he said.

Council discussed the continuing problem with people using portions of the River Trail that are not open.

“We’re worried people are going to get hurt. The bike rails are not up and it’s very dangerous,” said Lambert.

The path is open from its inception at Indian Acres Park to near the intersection of Fourth Street and Ohio Street, he reminded residents.