Overnight parking program stalled in committee

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The Cranston City Council Ordinance Committee puts the brakes on an ordinance Thursday that would have implemented an overnight parking pilot program.

Citing concerns raised in traffic engineer Stephen Mulcahy’s report on the impact of the program, and the need to speak further with public works, fire and police to form a more concrete plan, the committee voted down the ordinance, 5-1. Ward 3 Councilman Paul Archetto was the lone dissenter.

Council President Michael Farina said that, following the city budget hearings set to end in early May, he would like to establish a committee consisting of members of the council, fire and police departments and public works to address potential issues that could arise from the program. The ordinance was sponsored by Ward 1 Councilman Steven Stycos.

By ordinance, overnight parking in Cranston is barred on all streets for periods greater than two hours between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. The pilot program would have affected Wheeler, Grand and Villa avenues, and residents could purchase a year-long permit for $100.

“The intent is there,” Farina said. “This is the second time we’ve tried to pass something without creating a committee. Fire, police, public works, a committee gets together to talk about how to implement it. Create a subcommittee to look at this issue and answer questions in the traffic report, there are a lot of concerns. We have to take a solid look at implementing an overnight parking plan in this city, but we have to do it in a holistic way.”

Stycos tried to allay his fellow councilmen’s worries about the traffic report. Trash pickup and implementing the program during snowstorms were two of the problems listed, and Stycos sought to encourage his colleagues that little would change.

Stycos also researched a similar overnight parking system in Providence, and said it would be easy to identify which cars comply and which don’t by punching in a license plate number into the police’s computer system to see if it is allowed on the street.

“Same for trash collection, you would get a ticket for parking in front of trash bins,” Stycos said. “Snow storms, people would be subjected to the same rules, whether they have a permit or not. They have to get their car off the street. [As far as] education on the rules, [Providence] put up signs on the exit ramps into Providence on overnight parking, to post signs everywhere would be incredibly expensive.”

The traffic report contained a litany of reasons overnight parking bans are implemented, including “easier detection” of stolen vehicles and the safety of those in the neighborhood. The report also bulleted more requirements to be addressed before any hypothetical program would go into effect, such as application process and administrative cost. The full report can be found on the cranstonri.org website by checking this month’s ordinance meeting agenda on the calendar.

There was little disagreement amongst the committee on the merits of the ordinance, which Farina said could have a positive impact in every ward. However, the traffic report promoted a more careful approach.

“We need to take the extra diligence to talk to fire and police,” Ward 5 Councilman and Ordinance Committee Chairman Christopher Paplauskas said.

“Let’s get everyone to sit at the table and get something that will work,” Farina said.

Director of Administration Rob Coupe concurred with the worries in the report, and asked the committee “Is there a need?” for the program as it stands.

“We’re not the city of Providence, I understand there are some densely populated urban areas but there are some areas that are very different than that,” Coupe said. “If we begin this program in one area will it ultimately create a demand that doesn’t exist in other areas. There are a number of logistical issues that need to be addressed.”

Ward 1 resident Thomas Flynn, 79, who lives on one of the streets included in the pilot program, saw a need. Following the rejection of the ordinance, Flynn was irate as he attempted to give public comment, which had already come and gone on the agenda.

He has a parking problem at his residence, and he said Stycos told him that the issue was going to be addressed. However, discussion was pushed back on several occasions due to matters such as panhandling. He said it was a “disservice.”

Stycos apologized, saying, “Your city government is failing you. There’s a problem and now it’s going to be delayed some more.”

Farina objected to that, noting that it was “a little uncharacteristic to characterize it as failing, no one else has come forward to speak about this issue.”

Vice President Michael Favicchio and Paplauskas tried to ameliorate the situation as well. Paplauskas encouraged to Flynn to attend subcommittee meetings when they begin. Favicchio added that there is a “way to address the issue, but establishing a program that applies first to three streets then to the whole city is a bigger issue.”

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