‘Long overdue’ meeting addresses parking woes near dangerous Mt. Airy intersection

Short-term parking concerns at the corner of Germantown and Mt. Airy aves. were the focus of a community meeting that brought residents, business owners, community leaders and representatives of SEPTA, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and City Hall together this week.

Attendees discussed the enforcement of parking regulations at that intersection, the site’s evolution from empty to crowded and potential solutions to future problems.

“Back when I moved to the neighborhood in 1993, there was plenty of parking on the block because it was dead,” said City Councilwoman Cindy Bass at the Philadelphia Lutheran Seminary’s Hagan Center. “But here we are now, with a busy commercial corridor that, for many reasons, hasn’t yet adequately addressed parking issues.

“Needless to say, this meeting is long overdue.”

Already seeing action

As previously reported by NewsWorks, the issue and safety concerns surfaced at Mt. Airy-Nippon-Creishem-Bryan Town Watch’s November meeting.

Enforcement of “no-stopping regulations” has since been prioritized by officials with nearly 200 tickets being issued for violations along those blocks.

Police Officer Tom Seymour chalked the issue up to drivers making “state store or ATM” quick stops.

“The law is only as good as the people willing to abide by it and the people enforcing it,” said Sharrod Davis, the 14th Police District’s crime prevention officer. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game for a lot of drivers. Often, the people being issued violations are themselves from the neighborhood.”

Negative response and reaction

Not everybody was happy with the recent response. That list includes David Fellner, a local property owner who’s seen increased enforcement along the entire block.

“It seems like this response might be out of proportion to the safety concerns of the community,” Fellner said. “Business may be impacted.”

Recognizing Fellner’s concern, which was echoed by several others, Bass asked Linda Bradley, the PPA’s director of parking management, to assess the viability of designating some parking spaces within the block’s No Stopping zones as 20- or 30-minute Loading Only areas.

“People are going to do what they do,” Seymour said. “They’re going to have an excuse to justify their behavior.”

More parking needed

Jimmy Zergani, owner of Golden Crust Pizza, identified another solution.

“We need more parking spaces. This is the problem,” he said. “I know where there are over 100 parking spaces available. We grow. We need spaces. The city and the business owners need to look into this.”

He referenced a parking lot owned by Fellner on the block between East Mt. Airy Ave., East Durham St., Germantown Ave. and Chew Ave.

Fellner expressed some skepticism about leasing the lot to PPA or city, citing the existing use of the space by Northwestern Human Services.

“Over the years, I have tried to involve NW Services, and tried to encourage the community to bring them to the table, but so far they have been reluctant,” said Fellner. “I think there are relatively simple solutions to the problem, but they require some amount of community organizing.”

To that end, Bass urged parties to reconvene soon to discuss possible courses of action.

Greg Beatle, a West Mount Airy resident who works at nearby McMenamin’s Tavern, cited one possible course of action: Walking from a parking spot.

“There is almost always metered parking available further up Germantown Avenue,” he said. “I don’t think it’s asking too much of people that they walk half a block to hit up the ATM or pick up a pizza.”

Others responded that finding a balance between promoting business and enforcement is key.

“I’ve been living in this area for 30 years,” said Steven Stroiman, organizer of the Town Watch. “I just don’t want this business district to end up like Manayunk.”

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