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Published: December 21, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Unwelcoming policy

I am from Pittsburgh and have been visiting Butler once a week over the past two weeks.
Last week, I parked on Main Street during a snowstorm and decided to bide my time at Element Cafe. While I spent nearly six hours there, working, I also made sure to spend a fair amount of my money in return, in part because I enjoy supporting local businesses.
This week, however, while attempting to repeat my productivity from my previous visit, I was greeted with two $20 parking tickets. The explanation was that it was a meter violation, and while I “get it,” technically speaking, there are no meters on Main Street.
This leads me to my concern. What message are you sending to visitors such as myself with a two hour limit enforced with a hefty $20 fine that recurs every two hours? “Please visit our city, but don't visit too long?”
By comparison, a city with a similar amount of industry, albeit slightly larger, Wheeling, W.Va., has parking fines of $3.50. Furthermore, it makes little sense to have a fine in place that can be avoided by walking out to my vehicle every 90 minutes and finding a new parking spot. That seems an excessive, dull task for one who is happily spending their money at local establishments. The message appears to be, “Engage in this neurotic behavior of constantly moving your vehicle, or pay us to keep your parking spot, or else leave.”
While the City of Butler wins the battle, I'm afraid that laws such as this mean they are losing the war. The health of a city can be measured by its industry, which means local businesses need to thrive and generate revenue. What I've learned, though, is that visitors are not appreciated in Butler. Therefore, I am forced to take my patronage elsewhere, where I am welcomed and will be valued as a customer and visitor unless this nonsensical practice ceases. Given that the latter seems unlikely, I am likely bidding my farewell.




Derek Elliott
Pittsburgh
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