Council Addresses Park Walls and Parking Meters
At its combined work and legislative session on Monday night, July 1, Swarthmore Borough Council focused most of its energy on two parking issues and one park improvement.
Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association requested that six parking meters be set aside and “bagged” with orange hoods so as to set aside parking spots for drivers attending the weekly Gathering Place luncheons at Swarthmore United Methodist Church. The bagging would cover meters between 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesdays from September through June, as has been done in several previous years.
SSCA’s request comes after the Swarthmore Police Department discontinued the practice this June. Council vice president and Public Safety committee chair Mary Walk explained: “Just so people understand why this is up for discussion: I think that over time, the bags were disappearing and turning up at other places in town … used by whoever took the bag.” Walk noted that she is not saying the SSCA members were taking the bags.
Council members debated the pros — improving accessibility for less mobile SSCA members, many of them longtime Swarthmoreans — and cons — loss of meter revenue, and establishing a precedent which might lead to requests from other constituencies seeking free parking. Ultimately, an amended motion passed, 4 votes to 2, directing police to resume bagging (and unbagging) of up to six meters on Park Avenue in the immediate vicinity of SUMC, on Wednesdays from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., from September 2019 through June 2020. The SSCA will be asked to return bags they have now, and the policy will be reviewed after June.
Meters which are free of bags but encumbered by various malfunctions were next on the parking agenda. Council voted 6-0 to direct police and parking enforcement officers not to ticket cars parked at meters whose display reads “failed” or “jammed,” which have no display, or are otherwise visibly broken. These meters will be exempt from ticketing for the entire day on which the malfunction was reported.
The Public Works, Parks and Recreation committee sought and unanimously obtained council’s authorization to advertise for bids to repair and replace the walls in Swarthmore’s Central Park, whose “rammed earth” construction has been deteriorating since their installation in spring 2016. Per plans presented to the committee by Claudia Cueto and Heidi Sentivan of CuetoKearney architects, the slate caps will be removed, the rammed earth removed and replaced with precast blocks, and the caps replaced. Repairs will be funded by the Swarthmore Centennial Foundation, and are expected to be undertaken in fall 2019.