Lehighton Borough Council wants to increase the number of parking spaces for shoppers in the downtown area.

One way it plans to do this is to appeal to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to convert parallel parking spaces around the Lower Borough Park to diagonal spaces.

The permission for such a move is necessary from PennDOT because South Street, where the change would occur, is a state highway.

At one time – more than two decades ago –there had been angle parking at the park, but PennDOT forced the borough to change it to parallel parking for safety reasons. The result was a significant loss of the number of parking spaces.

Councilman John Bird brought up the topic last night, stating that angle parking "would prorate extra badly needed spaces to assist our business people and make conditions easier, safer for citizens."

He also proposed making two-hour parking limitations without meters at the angle parking area.

Bird told the council, "We have been blessed in Lehighton. We had municipal planners something like 120 years ago who must have peered into the future when they planned our streets."

He opined that because of those wide streets at the park, angle parking would work.

There are times when it is difficult to find parking spaces in downtown Lehighton, Bird said.

"We need extra parking."

He said it is financially impossible for the borough to purchase a building, demolish it, and create a parking lot, which would be an alternative.

Although the council agreed to make an appeal to PennDOT on the matter, Council President Grant Hunsicker said at least three previous such requests have been rejected.

"Let's contact PennDOT and ask again," said Councilman Scott Rehrig.

Mayor Donald Rehrig expressed apprehension on the proposal, stating that backing into traffic from an angled parking space could be dangerous, especially in a car if a van or large pickup truck obscures the view of the traffic flow.

Scott Rehrig agreed with the mayor.

Another council member, George Kogut, has held two Economic Summits with downtown merchants and mentioned that one of the main concerns of the merchants is the lack of parking availability.

He said a parking committee, chaired by attorney Jason Rapa, was formed within the Economic Summit.

The committee will be requested to assist with putting together an appeal to PennDOT to change the parking layout.

Frank Potoczak, chairman of the Lehighton Downtown Initiative Committee (LDIC), said regarding parking, "It is an issue."