by James Rada, Jr.
It can be aggravating when you want to visit a business in downtown Hanover and find yourself having to park two or three blocks away. Luckily, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is usually on a cold and rainy day. Then you need to find a dime or quarter somewhere in the car so you can feed the parking meter.
Hanover tends to have enough parking to accommodate residents’ needs, but — like most cities with downtown areas — the best spots are highly sought after.
Paying the price
Although the best parking is at a premium, at least you don’t have to pay premium prices to park, as you do in some cities. Even nearby boroughs charge more for parking than Hanover.
“We have the best prices in the area for parking,” said Hanover Borough manager Michael Bowersox. “People come here from York, and they are always amazed at how cheap it is.”
You can get 30 minutes of parking time for a dime, and even if you run overtime and get ticketed, the fine is just $5. By comparison, Gettysburg meters give you eight minutes for a dime — and the parking tickets are $25.
Despite the low cost of parking, Bowersox said that some people are willing to roll the dice and save the dime. Estimates are that only one out five people feed the meters because monitoring the meters hasn’t been a priority for police. But that might change: Two Public Works employees have been trained and deputized, and can now write parking tickets.
Even at bargain rates, the dimes and the $5 parking tickets add up. Hanover Borough’s fiscal year 2018 budget estimated that it would collect $129,650 in parking meter revenue. Of this amount, $8,500 comes from for parking violations. Parking convenience passes make up $29,750 of the total.
For $25 a month, pass holders can park in any of the borough’s 12-hour parking lots up to 12 hours a day, Monday through Friday.
“Our parking convenience passes were started a few years ago and have worked out very well,” Bowersox said.
Parking meters cost the borough $450 a piece. The annual cost of servicing, maintaining and repairing them is $16,500.
The revenue from parking meters goes into the borough’s general fund, so it can be used for virtually anything. Bowersox said that he tries to use the money for the maintenance of borough parks, but it is not put in a dedicated fund or line item for that purpose.
The borough has 609 metered spaces in the downtown area. They can be found on Baltimore Street, Carlisle Street, West Chestnut Street, East Chestnut Street, Frederick Street, York Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The PNC Bank parking lot is also metered, with the bank allotted some spaces and the revenues from the remaining spaces being split between PNC and the borough.
Downtown businesses like metered parking because it increases customer turnover.
Justine Trucksess, executive director with Main Street Hanover, agreed. “Parking meters are just one of those things that are part of doing business in Hanover.” She said the key thing is to make sure that the meters are being used in the best way possible.
One of the tricky things that needs to be considered for downtown parking is balancing the parking needs of businesses, customers and residents. Many of the businesses have apartments above them, and the residents not only want to park close to their home but want to park for longer than meters allow — potentially taking spaces away from the businesses’ paying customers.
“Businesses want the meters because if they weren’t there, apartment tenants would be taking up those spaces,” Bowersox said.
Making it better
Main Street Hanover is currently working with the borough on a streetscape design and beautification plan that will make recommendations about how the downtown district should look in the future. In addition to considering street furniture, lighting, landscaping, sidewalks, signage, public art and stormwater maintenance, the plan will consider parking issues, including the number of parking places, entrance and surface visibility and the quality of available parking.
One possibility is that the borough could adopt a new parking system that does not require parking meters and instead uses pay stations.
“These systems are great, if you can afford them,” Trucksess said. “They would probably make parking more expensive, but it’s cheap to park downtown.”
Bowersox said the borough has explored upgrading their parking system but hasn’t found one that offers good value to residents, particularly since parking is so affordable.