Gettysburg residents and borough council members expressed concerns Monday night about the trial oversized vehicle parking project that went into effect in July.
The project reserves blocks of three adjacent parking spaces at several downtown locations for oversized vehicles.
Gettysburg resident Kari Greenwalt said the bus parking areas on Baltimore St. are disruptive. “In theory it seems like a great idea,” she said. “However, what we have always encouraged buses to do is park at the Fire Hall or the former visitors center parking lot.”
Traffic is already challenging. To be adding to that buses that are navigating the oversided parking spaces creates an additional issue as far as people walking on the sidewalks,” said Greenwald.
Greenwald said residents who needed to drop off laundry or groceries were hampered by the presence of the buses. “It’s incredibly disruptive. It adds one more layer of frustration.”
“That’s why we have public transportation. Why aren’t we pushing that instead?” she said.
“We need to decide what Gettysburg is going to be, said Baltimore St. resident Judi Mcgee. Are we going to be a historical town that’s pedestrian-based, that’s bicycle-based, or are we going to be a commercial community that caters to big buses?”
“We’re back where we were in 1996 or 1997 or 1998,” said Mcgee. “We have buses parking on both sides of the street. When a bus takes three spaces it sits and idles. It belches soot and smoke. There is a 5-minute ordinance but it’s never enforced. Is there a reason we can’t offload around the corner and let people walk a block?”
Mcgee said there had been vandalism and littering in front of her house from people on the buses. “The kids aren’t supervised,” she said.
“Y’all expect us to preserve and respect and restore historic buildings… and then you park buses … that cause damage.”
“We’re all in the same boat,” she said. “Where do we put them? The buses cost me.”
York St. resident Sharon Michaels also spoke about the problem of buses idling in front of her house. “Because we sit close to the street it’s almost like they are in the same room with us,” she said. “The biggest concern for me is the pollution. They keep the buses running. There are a lot of kids living downtown; there is a lot of elderly living downtown. If we want to have a vibrant downtown that includes homeowners … the quality of life for residents really needs to be considered.”
Some council members expressed surprise to hear that that all oversized vehicles, including trucks, RVs, and vehicles towing trailers, are allowed to use the special parking spaces under the pilot program.
“I think it was a misunderstanding. I thought we were talking about buses,” said councilmember Chad-Alan Carr.
Parking Manager Becka Fissel said she was thankful that RVs could park in the spaces because there were few other options available for them. Some councilmembers said it would defeat the proposed purpose of the program if other vehicles filled the spaces so that tour buses were not able to.
The council will address the issue further at their next meeting.
The borough reported that it was keeping track, on an ad hoc basis, of the usage of the oversized vehicle spaces that are part of the pilot program. The borough said that the program had collected $108.75 from the parking spaces since July 26.