Philipsburg borough pledges to solve parking woes

Parking issues in Philipsburg are causing problems all over town.

On Front Street, the two-hour parking rule is not being enforced because there just isn’t enough time for the ordinance officers to get to it. The parking meters in the borough’s nearby lots need to be repaired, but that will cost more than they collect.

On Second Street, the two apartment buildings that serve low-income, senior and disabled residents don’t have enough parking and want to see restrictions for on-street parking removed.

And then there are some of the older residential streets, where parking was never a part of the design. On Eighth, 10th and 11th streets, some sidewalks are barely wide enough to walk on, and there is no room for a driveway between houses. The streets themselves are so narrow that plowing with cars parked there is almost impossible, and many residents have no choice but to park illegally on curbs and sidewalks.

Those issues were discussed Monday by Borough Council, but with little resolution other than to acknowledge that a solution must be found.

“We’ve got to go at it and take a look at what’s going on,” said council President Barbara Gette.

The problems were a topic at a recent streets committee meeting, with some recommendations proposed, such as the idea to allow Second Street residents to park all day every day. Councilwoman Wanda McDonald said she sees problems with that, though, namely that a number of businesses between the two apartment buildings could end up having nowhere for customers to park on a street that is zoned for business.

The borough does own a patch of ground nearby that could be a public parking lot. They just aren’t allowed to use it.

The former Guenot building site on Pine Street was purchased by the municipality years ago with $19,000 in grant money the municipality requested to rip down the condemned structure. When the borough then looked at selling the land or using it as a paid parking lot, it found it would have to pay back the grant, to the tune of $48,000.

“Essentially, we bought a dead horse,” said Councilman Sam Womer.

On the other end of town, council members are at a loss for what to do. McDonald said that in some places, the street is so narrow, there are trees growing in what should be the roadway, making it hard to tell homeowners they can’t park there, too.

Streets and zoning-ordinance committees will be holding a joint meeting to brainstorm solutions to parking problems. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.

In the meantime, Philipsburg is advertising for bids for one public lot on Ninth Street, across from the former library building. Repairs to that area would actually cost more than revenues, they said.