During their June 1 virtual meeting, the Borough of Bath Council signaled that it is time to start enforcing severe parking violations. Parking enforcement had been on hold during the COVID-19 crisis in an effort to ease the financial burden on residents, open up more parking spaces for people not working, and ease the flood of paperwork spilling into a closed court system. However, some have taken advantage of this leniency.
“[Some people] are parking in places that are illegal and [it is] becoming a safety issue,” said Mayor Fiorella Mirabito.
This includes parking in front of fire hydrants or mail boxes.
Council agreed. Meter parking will not begin until the first of the month following Northampton County’s entrance into Governor Tom Wolf’s “Green Phase.” (For example, if Northampton County were to go “Green” on July 15, enforcement would start on August 1.) However, enforcement of flagrant parking violations that pose a danger to residents will start immediately.
“We were lenient,” said Councilman Frank Hesch, “but now we are going to start opening it back up again.”
Enforcement will be carried out by the borough administration. An enforcement officer the borough hired will be on military duty until 2021, but temporary alternatives are being considered.
Another parking issue discussed during the meeting included commercial vehicle parking.
Commercial vehicles are not allowed to park overnight on borough streets. However, residents who own commercial vehicles can apply for authorization through the borough’s office.
Other issues discussed included possible signage directing drivers to the borough’s public parking lots. This is something borough manager Brad Flynn says is long overdue. The slowdown caused by the pandemic has allowed the borough to start researching its options for these signs. The costs are “somewhat nominal.”
Council also discussed adding signage identifying the historic downtown area of the borough.
“That is kind of what the town is known for,” said Hesch.
Councilwoman Carol Bear Heckman, who spearheaded historical preservation efforts in the borough, drew sketches of possible signs that incorporate architecture seen around Bath.
Mayor Mirabito also asked council to research the cost of a digital sign outside the borough building. This sign would announce events and news impacting borough residents.
“While we are slow, this is an opportune time to do all of the research we need,” said Council President Mark Saginario. “So when we do the budget for 2021, half the battle is done.”
Council also passed two ordinances during their meeting. The first designated two one-way streets in the borough. Washington Street from East Main to Penn Street will be one-way northbound. Poplar Street will also be designated as a one-way street northbound from East Main to Pearl Street.
The borough will monitor how traffic reacts to this change to see whether further amendments must be made.
The second ordinance passed by council created a ticketing system for those who violate the borough’s Quality of Life ordinance. Owners of blighted properties will face a fine of $25 for their first violation, $50 for their second, $100 for their third, and $300 for their fourth.
Flynn hopes these fines will motivate owners to clean up their properties. A 60-day written warning period is in effect following the passage of this ordinance.
Finally, Flynn told council that tax collections “are doing well so far.” He predicted that “any declines we see will be in the coming quarters.”
By pausing major spending, the borough has prepared itself for any decline in revenue.
“Sometimes you have to put the breaks on and wait to see how things unfold,” Flynn said. “Being aggressive was key.”
Saginario agreed. “We did a great job in stepping back,” he said. “I think we made some of the right moves and choices.”