ELYRIA — The city posted a two-hour parking limit sign outside the Lorain County Justice Center on Thursday after local attorneys complained about being ticketed for violating the time limit where was no sign.
Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said she doesn’t think the sign, which she said clarifies the area is a two-hour parking zone, is new because there were brackets in place for where the sign should have been.
“At some point there was a sign,” she said.
But attorney Thomas McGuire, who has successfully convinced prosecutors to drop a ticket for parking in the spot for more than two hours, called the sign a “knee-jerk reaction” to criticism.
“It’s kind of a ‘we’ll show you’ mentality,” McGuire said.
McGuire and other attorneys have complained about the city’s enforcement of not just parking in front of the Justice Center, which prosecutors conceded wasn’t limited without a sign, but also other tactics allegedly used by the city’s new parking enforcement officer, Nathan Kwilecki.
Two attorneys, Wayne Nicol and former county Domestic Relations Judge David Berta, have said they plan to contest overtime parking tickets they received last week. They contend that they have proof they were parked in their spots for fewer than two hours.
Attorneys also have complained that Kwilecki is marking the sides of tires so that even if a car is moved, it remains marked.
Siwierka said she talked to Kwilecki on Thursday after the complaints about him became public.
“He came to talk to me to say he’s doing his job and he enjoys his job,” she said. “That’s not an easy job to do, but he’s really embraced it.”
She also said Kwilecki adds a uniformed city presence downtown and he offers directions, talks to people and has called in suspicious activity to police.
There also have been complaints about the reasoning behind the enforcement of the time limits downtown, a practice the city renewed last year at the request of downtown business owners.
Attorney Kenneth Lieux, who rents out a portion of the downtown building where his office is located as an apartment, said the parking enforcement has reached the point where he fears it could hamper efforts to revitalize downtown Elyria.
“You’re driving away business and you’re going to drive away any hope to have an urban population living downtown,” Lieux said.
Tamela Grubb, director of Main Street Elyria, said there are some business owners who don’t favor parking enforcement.
“This is always going to be and always has been a two-edged sword because we have on one side business owners who don’t want the parking monitored and those owners who want it monitored,” she said.
Grubb said she understands concerns raised by Lieux and Powerhouse Gym owner John Dixon about the impact on some businesses and downtown residents. She said there have been some conversations about whether or not to grant parking permits to those living downtown so they don’t have to worry about tickets.
Siwierka said the city is willing to listen to proposals to revise its parking rules.
Siwierka, Grubb and Elyria Police Chief Duane Whitely all said there are places people can park all day without risking a ticket.
“There are parking lots in the downtown area that are free,” Whitely said. “People just don’t want to walk.”
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.