February 22, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
Unpaid meters and poorly parked cars
are no longer likely to get a free pass in downtown Hartford.
In what officials say is a bid to make
it easier for those interested in stopping downtown to find a parking
space, a new era of enforcement is about to begin.
"There's going to be a different
level of parking enforcement," said James J. Kopencey, executive
director of the Hartford Parking Authority. "We encourage all
of the people who use the parking meters to obey the signs and to
bring their quarters with them."
The authority assumed responsibility
for the city's on-street parking program Feb. 15. After contracting
with Central Parking System to run the program, the authority hired
eight full-time parking enforcement officers.
Add them to the three city employees
who do parking enforcement as part of their jobs, and the results
will be noticeable when the program starts within the next couple
of weeks, officials say.
"They have a quota," Kopencey
said. "Their quota is to write as many tickets as a healthy
person can write on a reasonable day."
"The goal is to promote access
to destinations in the central business district and to make sure
people share a parking space," he added. "That's what
the parking meter is all about."
Fines have not changed, although that
is something the authority will consider in the year to come.
M. Ronald Morneault, co-owner of Tuesday's
clothing store on Asylum Street and president of Business for Downtown
Hartford, likes the authority's move.
"It's a good thing," Morneault
said of the increased enforcement actions.
The state made a good first step by
building the Morgan Street Garage, Morneault said, which "gets
long-term parkers off the street and makes it affordable to them."
Now, he said, people need to get "used
to the idea that metered parking is short-term." The meters
are for use on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Steve Delpapa works in Newington and
occasionally uses the downtown YMCA site. As he filled his meter
with an hour's worth of change Tuesday afternoon, Delpapa said that
planning ahead when coming downtown is a must.
"Gotta get change, gotta get change,"
As for the prospect of greater enforcement,
Delpapa said it doesn't bother him because he feeds the meters regularly.
"Some people do it without putting the money in and they take
their chances. But if they're going to be patrolling even more,
they're going to have to [pay]. I've always done it anyway."
Tim Hampford sat in his car on Trumbull
Street, typing on his computer. The Trumbull resident lived in the
city 10 years ago and thinks that more enforcement makes sense.
"If they don't have enough people
covering, then they should ramp it up," Hampford said, agreeing
that on-street parking should be short-term. "It absolutely
While the authority awaits its newly
printed tickets, the new parking enforcers will be handing out tickets
with smiley faces and kind warnings reminding parkers to bring their
Within a year or so, Kopencey hopes
the authority will begin to roll out its new "pay and display"
machines that will make the current 1,800 meters obsolete and will
allow parkers to pay with plastic instead of coins.
For now, though, Kopencey is ready
to go with what he's got.
"We're extremely anxious to do
what we've been charged with doing for a very long time," Kopencey
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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