March Big Snow

Large plows clear snow in Attleboro in March 2018.

ATTLEBORO — Could a thaw be coming in the long, icy opposition to changes in the overnight winter parking ban?

City council vice president and public works chairwoman Kate Jackson indicated during a committee meeting this week that changes, at the very least, will be considered.

She said no action will be taken to affect this year’s ban, but the matter will be taken up in the spring.

Jackson noted she has several letters from residents urging changes and that she would like to address them, but not now.

“It’s already winter time and by the time we get to a public hearing and people speaking, winter will be over,” Jackson said.

Spring will be a better time to address the matter because that will give the council enough time to consider and implement changes, if any, and then inform the public before next winter, she said.

The city’s annual four-month overnight parking ban has been in effect since Dec. 1 and it will stay in effect through March 31.

Under the rules, no street parking is allowed from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. every night. A fine of $10 per violation can be imposed.

The ordinance was put in place to make it easier for plow operators to clear the streets of snow.

But there are many who consider the ban onerous and an unnecessary imposition on residents who do not have a place to park their cars — especially when the number of snowless nights greatly outnumber snowy nights.

It’s especially a problem in congested areas such as the East Side, where there are many multi-family homes on small lots, and in the warren of streets that make up South Attleboro.

Some councilors said they are willing to look at the problem.

Cathleen DeSimone, who’s a member of Jackson’s committee, indicated that a four-month ban seems excessive.

“I know other cities and towns that just issue parking bans as needed,” she said. “I think I’m inclined to support such a change.”

Councilor Diana Holmes is also interested in discussing the issue.

“It is worth having a discussion and I appreciate you bringing it forward to see if there’s a different solution for the city,” she said.

Efforts in the past have typically met with resistance from public works and public safety officials along with the mayor’s office.

Just last year public works Superintendent Mike Tyler shot down an effort to revamp the ordinance by then-council vice president Heather Porreca and councilor Jay DiLisio.

Former Ward 1 (South Attleboro) councilor Jim Hanley tried to get the ordinance changed twice, once in 2007 at which time he described it as “antiquated.”

He tried and failed again in 2011 as a private citizen.

In 1999 then-city councilor Dennis Walsh, the current recreation director, succeeded in a move to rescind the ordinance on a 6-4 vote, but then-mayor Judy Robbins vetoed the measure.

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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