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Gettysburg Borough Council announces free holiday parking beginning on Thanksgiving Day

The Gettysburg Borough Council discussed ways to make the borough safer last week, including implementing a “Vision Zero” plan that would be used to reduce accidents in the borough. The program includes traffic calming strategies to slow traffic.

The borough noted that accident-reduction plans were already in place in the borough and would be part of all capital improvement projects going forward.    

Police Chief Robert Glenny said the number of car crashes in the borough was high and continued to increase and that this year would likely have more crashes than last year. Glenny said he welcomed the possibility of traffic calming solutions. “We’re starting to have a crash issue in the borough. I’m 100 percent in favor of traffic calming. It does help.”

Glenny said because of its elevated crash rates the borough currently qualifies for four different grants to help prevent them. “We do have a lot of traffic through the borough,” he said. 

Free Holiday Parking

The borough approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Gettysburg Area Retail Merchants Association, Inc. (GARMA) to approve free holiday parking for the 2021 holiday season, from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. Free parking is designated every day from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM during the holiday season except on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays where parking will be paid as usual during the metered hours. The designated parking areas, as requested by GARMA, are as follows: Lincoln Square and the first blocks of Baltimore Street, York Street, Carlisle Street and Chambersburg Street and the first block of Steinwehr Avenue.

Budget Discussions

As a result of the federal 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds coming to the borough, Borough Manager Charles Gable said he thought the borough would be in good fiscal shape for the next five years and that no new tax increases would likely be necessary. He introduced a draft 2021-22 budget of about $6.7 million that will be discussed by the council in public meetings over the next weeks.

Gable said the 2020 U.S. Census showed the borough population had dropped to 7,106. Gable said the past number that the borough had used was 7,620. Gable said he didn’t know why the number dropped but he assumed it was because there were fewer college students on campus during the pandemic year when the census was conducted.

Gable reminded the council the borough was small but it needed to pay for the services required by the 4 million tourists who visit every year. Gable said the “pillow tax” that is paid by tourists is by PA law directed only to the police department.

“The borough continues to struggle,” he said, noting that about 40 percent of properties are tax exempt and the overall assessed tax base dropped by $1.5 million between 2020 and 2021.

But Gable said that with the exception of last year, parking revenues had continued to increase and that the months of July, August, and Sept. 2021 had outpaced any other year.

Gable said the borough had maintained a budget surplus over the past years, largely due to increases in parking revenue but that 2020 had led to a large deficit of about $194,000.

Gable said ARPA funds will be used to (1) replace revenue lost during the pandemic and (2) rehire public sector staff including one police officer.

Other business

The council approved a number of other motions including finalizing changes to the short term rental zoning restrictions and the Steinwehr Ave. Business Improvement District extension.

Mayor Streeter and the council recognized Peggy Gustafson and Phillip Goble for their many years of service as members of the Historical Architectural Review Board HARB.

Gustafson said an enjoyable part of her job was to share with people the amazing work they did in improving their properties

The borough said CSX railroad crossing work in the borough is running late. Crossings are now scheduled to be temporarily closed in early November, although the timeframe may change.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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  • What if it isn’t that traffic needs to slow down, but that drivers need to be held more accountable for causing accidents. Do the borough police charge drivers with reckless driving? Is the fine enough of a deterrent? When you cause a disturbance and inconvenience for other travelers, this is not ok.
    The regular motorists in the borough and environs shouldn’t have to be slowed down. Careless drivers need to be held to a higher standard.

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