Once again, neighbors packed the gym at North Light Community Center for Manayunk Neighborhood Council's permit parking meeting. The goal of the meeting was to answer questions and hear comments and suggestions from residents, and then VOTE!

The proposed permit parking area is bounded, roughly, by Green Lane, Silverwood, Grape, and Cresson. The area contains nearly 400 homes.

Manayunk Neighborhood Council presented this plan in an effort to return parking to the residents. The Council believes that two groups of people are seriously impacting parking in the neighborhood. An increasing number of transient renters in housing that holds three to five unrelated adults, each with a car, and customers and employees of Main Street take parking away from the residents. With these groups eliminated, the parking situation will be eased but not solved.

When the audience was asked "How many of you have one out of state license plate on your block?", the answer from the crowd was a sea of hands. "Two out of state plates?" "Three out of state plate?" Still a sea of hands!

Unlike last month's meeting, this one proceeded smoothly with people stepping up to the microphone to ask their questions or make their statements. Questions were handled by a panel made up of Rick Dickson and Jim Ney from the Philadelphia Parking Authority, Councilman Michael Nutter, and Jane Glenn and Gerald Harrison of Manayunk Neighborhood Council.

Everyone agreed that parking is terrible. Several people thought parking on Main Street should be free. Some complained that the City should enforce the 'rental' laws. A few wanted a guarantee that they could park in front of their house. The difficulty of obtaining visitor passes was referred to as a major weakness in the program. Residents with their cars registered in other areas complained that the program was too restrictive. Many offered other solutions such as making more parking lots. Most people felt that permit parking would not solve their problem. Some people, while admitting the program wasn't perfect, thought it was a step in the right direction and better than what they had now. One gentleman offered to pay for anyone not able to afford the yearly fee.

Concerns were raised at the last meeting about taking the votes of people who were housebound or unable to attend the meeting. Manayunk Neighborhood Council offered the option of keeping the ballot box sealed and taking one week to collect ballots from those who could not make the meeting. There was enough division among the neighbors that it was put to a vote. In a close decision the neighbors chose to end voting and to count the ballots at the end of the meeting.

When the final tally was in, it was not even close. Of the approximately 100 people at the meeting, 69 ballots were submitted from residents in the target district. They voted a clear 'No' with 48 against permit parking and 21 for it. While much had been said about the cost of the program ($35 per car for the first year and $20 per car each additional year), only five people said they would switch their vote from no to yes if the pilot program were free

Manayunk Neighborhood Council will continue to work on parking and other problems. They will return to Venice Island Recreation Center for their monthly meetings. The next meeting will be held on March 7 at 7:30 PM at the Rec. Center.