What’s the point of parking signs?

By Chuck Witt

During a recent trip downtown and while enjoying a cup of coffee at Broadway Café, perusing East Broadway and contemplating the changes that are taking place there, a question arose: Why does Winchester have parking posts with “2 hour parking” signs on each one when no one is responsible for verifying that the noted time limit is not being exceeded?

There was a time when these posts supported parking meters. Those meters have been long gone, replaced by the signs admonishing parkers to linger no more than two hours. And there was also a time when a parking control officer routinely traveled the downtown streets to assure compliance with the posted signs. No more.

And because of the current status, it is not unreasonable to wonder why these posts and signs continue to line the curbs of the city.

They are not pretty. And they certainly are not functional under current circumstances. Wouldn’t the downtown area look a lot neater without all these unnecessary posts sticking up everywhere?

Of course, maybe an option would be to remove just the signs and put something pretty on the remaining posts, like original artwork, or banners, or flags, or plaques telling the history of Winchester or even decorative lights (if some inexpensive way could be found to operate them and keeping vandals from destroying them). As a last ditch effort, maybe the posts could be filled with potting soil and flowers planted in them.

Maybe there could be a contest to glean suggestions as to what could be done with the posts, even if most of them were eventually removed.

Now, to be reasonable, there are some posted parking time limits which should probably remain, like those around the courthouse and the judicial center, where a 30-minute limit probably works well for most people who have business in these locations. And those who are called to jury duty, or understand that their business is going to take longer, are encouraged to park in the city lots off North Main Street and East Broadway where there is no time limit.

And, if some new businesses were to locate downtown which provided quick service — like the Subway that is now gone — it might be prudent to place some 15-minute limit signs near those businesses to accommodate the rush-in-and-rush-out customer.

A city official recently commented without the two-hour limit signs, people would just park and leave their cars in the same spot all day.

Of course, nothing is preventing a parker from doing this at the present time anyway, since there is no enforcement of the two-hour limit.

And the downtown parking situation, as it currently exists, is exacerbated by some employees and owners of downtown businesses parking in spaces that would be more judiciously used by people who come downtown to shop and conduct business.

But back to the issue of the parking meter posts. If there is no likelihood of meters ever being installed on the posts again, and if it is unlikely that active enforcement of the posted two hour limit will re-occur, then something should be done with the posts, and their removal would seem to be the most logical answer.

But then, the posts do serve one useful purpose; they keep errant cars from running up on the curb.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.