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Harmony area parking issues persist

Drivers try to park at the Harmony Inn on Thursday. Residents have raised concerns about lack of parking within Harmony.
Lot, permits considered

HARMONY — A borough-wide problem has persisted in recent years.

Residents are coming forward to borough council regarding problems with parking in the area.

“We’re concerned that we as residents don’t have a place to park,” said Wood Street resident Susan Webb.

Sometimes, Webb said, she has trouble parking near her home because of people parking along the side of the street.

“As residents, we shouldn’t have to defer to whoever is temporarily parked there for the day,” she said. “Sometimes we can’t even get onto the apron of our driveway.”

Officials said parking has been a persisting issue because of the borough’s increased traffic in recent years and its overall expansion since the borough’s revitalization several years ago.

Josh Meeder, a member of the Harmony Business Association, has suggested that a parking lot be built on Astor Lane, which runs parallel to Mercer Street behind the Center of Harmony. He said parking is the “number one” problem the borough has.

The proposed parking lot would have about 65 spaces.

“Zelienople has gotten very far in parking with the lot behind the Kaufman House,” Meeder said. “Harmony is expanding. It’s a small town and we need more parking.”

Meeder requested at February’s borough council meeting that the borough buy the roughly .75 acres on Astor Lane for the lot.

Council President Greg Such, however, said now may not be the right time to build a new lot.

“I don’t think the borough is fixed to spending $50,000 to develop a new parking lot,” Such said. “That would definitely require a grant of some sort.”

Meeder said he hopes the borough will receive grant funding to build the lot.

Residents say one “major” problem is a large amount of people parking around the Harmony Inn during peak business hours.

Owner Bob McCafferty could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Cathy Rape said whenever the restaurant experiences high volumes of parking, other available parking sites are empty.

“That Main Street lot is empty all the time,” she said. “No matter how crowded it is by the inn, other areas will be empty. People want to park right beside the inn.”

Other areas where people can park include the town square on Main Street, the borough building on Mercer Street, the log house near the entrance to Route 68 on Main Street, the area across from Dambaugh Lumber on the corner of Spring and German streets, and the Harmony Museum’s log cabin on Mercer Street.

“The people don’t want to walk,” Rape said. “If you go to Pittsburgh for a play or sporting event, you’re walking. But yet, people don’t want to come to a small town, park on a side street anywhere and walk.”

Webb also suggested making Jackson Street a one-way street.

“We need additional parking in town,” she said. “We need to resolve it.”

Such also brought up the possibility of negotiating with the Loyal Order of the Moose on Mercer Road to use its property for public parking.

Borough solicitor Matt Racunas at Tuesday’s meeting said the “right vehicle” to go toward is permit parking for all residents.

“You don’t want to get into a situation where now we’re saying, ‘Here’s two spots. These are reserved for you,’” he said. “Then your next-door neighbor will say, ‘Where’s my spot?’”

“You can’t specifically treat someone differently,” he added. “I’m trying to come up with a solution that doesn’t cause more problems.”