NEW METER CONDOMS
The only thing more aggravating than using Springfield’s coin-op parking meters – who carries change anymore – is not being able to use them when they’re covered by red “No Parking” bags. Sometimes, there’s a good reason: There’s construction going on. Sometimes, not so much: There will be a good reason tomorrow, when the festival/parade/concert comes, but crews had to bag the meters today during regular work hours. And when a really big to-do like the Route 66 Mother Road Festival comes around, there is, essentially, no on-street parking allowed downtown long before the circus comes to town. This, understandably, has vexed some downtown merchants whose business suffers when folks can’t park. And so the city will debut new parking meter bags on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, when parking will be banned in much of downtown for the March 16 parade. The new bags, blue instead of red, have insert thingies that allow customized notices to be displayed: Instead of “No Parking,” period, the bags can show signs – “Park here after 8 a.m. Saturday and you’ll get towed,” in the meantime park for free. The city has acquired about 100 blue bags to post near businesses, says public works director Mark Mahoney. Why buy bags at all, given that the meters, so old that parts are no longer made, might soon be gone? Some folks say yank meters and let folks park free. Mahoney says the city hasn’t yet figured out a long-term downtown parking plan. “It’s still fluid,” he says.