It's going to get a little bit more expensive to park in Downtown Tamaqua. Council voted to advertise an ordinance establishing the parking meter rate at $0.25 per hour in borough parking lots and meter permit parking areas and $.50 per hour in the non-permit parking areas. Currently, the rates are $0.25 per hour in the non-permit areas, and between $0.10 and $0.25 per hour in the lots and permitted parking areas.

Additionally, the smallest amount of time available on a meter will be one half hour and the ranges on the meters may be from two to four hours, depending on the location. Currently, the meters may be plugged for as little as twelve minutes.

Council recently approved a CDBG project to begin replacing the downtown meters, citing the lack of availability of parts and replacements for the old style meters. Councilman David Mace explained that a quarter is the smallest denomination that can be put into the new style meters.

The move was met by opposition before it even came up for a vote. Pat Freeh-Stefanek, president of the Tamaqua Area Chamber of commerce submitted a letter to council expressing the Chamber's concerns with the rate hikes. In the letter, Freeh-Stefanek explains that most businesses require only short term parking, like running in to Shafer's Pharmacy to pick up a prescription or stopping at Klingaman's to pick up a greeting card. "It will be difficult to justify the inconvenience of parking downtown" she wrote.

She also questioned the initial proposal to raise the limit on the meters to a 4 hour block. "Employees and residents will be able to park all day, thus defeating the idea of keeping the meters open to clients," she said. Council later amended the proposal to keep a two hour parking limit on the meters.

Linda Yulanavage, executive director of the Chamber, attended the meeting and echoed Freeh-Stefanek's concerns. "This will affect the businesses," she said. She also said the Chamber had been hoping to meet with members of the parking and traffic committee to discuss their concerns prior to action being taken on the proposal.

Ultimately, the proposal to advertise the ordinance passed unanimously.

In other matters:

Ÿ The parking and traffic committee tabled a proposal to establish a stop intersection for eastbound traffic on Hegarty Avenue at the intersection with Nescopec Street. There was some confusion about the effective placement of the sign.

Ÿ A motion to advertise an ordinance establishing a stop intersection for eastbound traffic on Mountain Avenue at the intersection with Federal Street was passed.

Ÿ A motion to install 30"x36" 35 MPH signs on Owl Creek Road near the intersection with State Route 309 and near the borough line was passed.