By NATHAN GREGORY
For more than 10 years, the two-hour parking limit signs on Main Street were more of a reminder to be courteous to others visiting the downtown area than a rule.
That ends today, at least for the next four months.
Starkville Police Department resumes enforcement of the rule beginning today. A parking enforcement officer will patrol four areas where parking has become a problem and will issue tickets to owners of vehicles that are parked in one of the areas for more than two hours.
The areas affected are: Main Street from West Main Street to Jackson Street; Washington Street from the Oktibbeha County Court House to Lampkin Street; Lafayette Street from Jefferson Street to Lampkin Street; and Jackson Street from Main Street to Lampkin Street.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved the use of a parking enforcement officer through May 31 on Jan. 15. The board will then evaluate the enforcement’s effectiveness before deciding if more needs to be used in the future.
Starkville Police Chief David Lindley said vehicles parked in the areas for more than two hours between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday will be subject to a ticket. Violators can appear in municipal court or pay citations. Repeat violators or motorists who fail to pay their fines will be wheel locked or towed, Lindley said.
“We’re trying to reacquaint everyone with the concept of two-hour limits … and trying to make as much effort as possible in letting everyone become aware of the fact that we’re implementing it this week,” Lindley said.
Currently, fines for violators of the two-hour rule pay $10, while those who park opposing traffic or park in a no-parking zone are assessed a $20 fine. Those who block fire plugs or park in a fire lane are fined $50, while people who inappropriately park in handicapped spaces are fined $200.
Those amounts may change depending on what the board decides to do in its meeting today. An item on the board’s agenda is consideration of adopting more expensive fines for violators. If approved, fine amounts for violators of the two-hour rule would increase to $25, while those who park opposing traffic or in a no-parking zone would pay $40 instead of $20. Fine amounts for blocking a fire plug or parking in a fire lane would double to $100.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said though he was one of two votes against re-enforcing the two-hour rule, he will vote in favor of the increased parking fines. The board has listened to concerns of downtown business owners who believed parking had become such an issue that enforcement was necessary, he said.
“I think since this ordinance is now law that it needs to have some sharp teeth in it. I think the higher the fines … would be a great deterrent to everyone from violating the law,” Perkins said. “Even though I didn’t support this initially I’m going to vote for the increase … because I want to send a message that since this is now the law, I want it to be enforced.”