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Parking issues come before commission

Richard D. L. Fulton

(8/23) Currently-permitted parking for area workers and commuters along Silo Hill parkway may be nearing an end as Emmitsburg also considers continuing to pursue a park-and-ride site.

Town administrators have previously sought to establish and park-and-ride location in or around Emmitsburg, but ending parking along Silo Hill Parkway was introduced as a topic for discussion at the town commissioners’ August 20 meeting at the request of a property owner.

Regarding the park-and-ride concept, Town Manager David Haller told the town Board of Commissioners at August’s meeting that the effort to establish a site began "a few years back before things got so tight financially for us and the State of Maryland."

The park-and-ride facility was proposed near Route 15 and a property owner had offered land for that use. "That kind of got put on the back burner,‘ Haller said, as the recession worsened.

The town manager noted that, "About a month ago, the asked if we were still interested (in pursuing a park-a-ride facility)," and suggested that if there was still interest that the town "get a letter drafted and sent off."

But as the park-and-ride concept seem to be gaining a new lease on life, a formerly created impromptu park-and-ride scheme - created along Silo Hill parkway - was beginning to generate some concern.

Allowing local workers and commuters to park along the side of Silo Hill Parkway traces its origins to about four or five years ago when then-Mayor James E. Hoover was approached by residents of the Silo Hill development concerned about their development roads being used as a sort of uninvited, make shift park-and-ride facility.

According to Haller, "He (the mayor) worked with staff and commissioners and arranged where you could have long-term parking on Silo Hill Parkway" to stop commuters from using the development roads.

But now that also might need to be nixed.

Haller told the commissioners at their August meeting, "I got a call from a local property owner (subsequently identified as Dale Hess) with concerns about parking that was going on at Silo Hill Parkway" and the impact that was having on the evaluation of his vacant property that fronts on that road.

It seems that those using the roadway for commuter parking were also generating a fair amount of litter as well.

"I started watching it (the adjacent land)," Haller stated. "You average 25 cars a day that are parked out there, 80 percent are Pennsylvania folks, and there is a mess out there, including coffee cups thrown around."

"I believe there might be a reason to consider doing something with that long term parking out there," he told the commissioners. "I think it is at least worth considering to modify that situation."

Dale Hess told the commissioners, "We developed the land and built the hotel there, and we were promoting this piece of (vacant, adjacent) property."

"We brought up a national company to look at it and the man said, ‘What about these cars out here?,‘ Hess stated. "I said I would go to the town to seek help and he said he wasn’t going to waste a lot of time (waiting for that)."

"There are Tin cans, bottles. We have to send people in there (into the on-site retention pond) and clean that out. It costs us money. We don’t think the cars belong (along this road). We put a lot of money in to this property. We’ve got a lot of money riding there.

We just feel we can’t promote the property with this hanging over our heads," Hess said.

The board directed town staff to develop regulations that would cure the problem along Silo Hill Parkway while, at the same time, avert a situation where parkers would fall back on using the roads in the nearby development.

No further formal action was taken on the park-and-ride or Silo Hill Parkway issues.

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