On Centre: Around Bellefonte | Courtesy parking program encourages local holiday shopping

As the holiday season continues, locals still have about two weeks to shop in Bellefonte without having to pay to park.

The Bellefonte Borough Council passed its annual holiday parking program last month, which allows anyone parking in Bellefonte a two-hour grace period before they receive a ticket, Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said. Any cars parked at metered spaces will first receive a “courtesy ticket” and won’t get a fine unless the car is still parked there when the parking enforcement officer returns.

Stewart said that this method, which has been in place for about 20 years, allows shoppers to populate the businesses and doesn’t let tenants or employees take advantage of the system.

“It’s just been a process that we’ve worked to develop, and what we have done has worked very well,” he said.

The courtesy parking plan began on Nov. 28 and lasts through Jan. 1, 2014, he said.

Stewart doesn’t get a huge influx of feedback from business owners or residents each year, but he thinks the silence is golden.

Because no one is complaining or asking for changes or adjustments to the system, he thinks everyone is content and happy with the process.

He said it’s really a way to get more people to come into Bellefonte, which is always a goal for the borough employees and council.

And he said the program is pretty flexible.

Even cars that are parked downtown for several hours aren’t guaranteed to get a ticket. The borough only has one parking enforcement officer working each day so they won’t be around every two hours exactly.

“A person could park there a fairly long time (before) the second round,” he said.

He expects council to continue the program in future years and encourages people to come shop in Bellefonte during the program this year.