March Big Snow

Snow removal equipment clears County Street in Attleboro during a snowstorm in March 2018.

ATTLEBORO — A potential move to get rid of the city’s winter parking ban is quickly running into opposition.

Public works Superintendent Mike Tyler appeared at Tuesday’s meeting of the city council’s pubic works committee, headed by councilor Kate Jackson, and urged the council to reject the effort, which, as yet, is not official.

“We don’t want to inconvenience any residents, but I think we’d be a little shortsighted if we took that ban out,” Tyler told the panel.

Banning all overnight parking for four months from Dec. 1 through March 31, regardless of weather, is the only way to assure the streets are plowed, sanded and salted properly, he said.

Councilors Heather Porreca and Jay DiLisio are sponsoring a request to form a special committee to “address public concern” about the ban and consider amending the ordinance.

The request was scheduled for submission on Tuesday, but Porreca, who was acting president because president Mark Cooper was ill, delayed the move until she has a chance to talk to him about who should be on the committee.

Meanwhile, Tyler said plow drivers typically find at least 100 vehicles parked on city streets while doing their jobs, and if the ban is lifted that number would likely increase, making their jobs more difficult.

The main aim of the ban is to maintain public safety and ensure access to all roads for emergency equipment, Tyler said.

“I have not heard what I believe is a realistic reason for lifting the parking ban,” he said. “I think it’s going to jeopardize public safety.”

Porreca argues that modern communications — including social media, reverse 911 calling, cable TV and newspapers, in print and online — can easily spread the word that a temporary ban is in place during bad weather and residents need to get their vehicles off the roads.

She said people should not have to remove their vehicles from the street when the weather is good.

DiLisio said the matter deserves discussion because so many residents are upset with the ordinance and the inconvenience of finding off-street parking for most of the winter.

Dense neighborhoods like the East Side and parts of South Attleboro are especially impacted by the ban.

“We need to look at every option that’s available,” DiLisio said. “I don’t know what the right answer is, but it’s our job to look at what their concerns are.”

Porreca said she hopes a committee to explore the issue will be formed next week.

The issue of a four-month parking ban resurfaces to some extent almost every winter when residents discover they’re subject to fines for leaving their vehicles on the street, even when the weather is good.

In a 1999 effort led by then-councilor and current recreation director Dennis Walsh, the council rescinded the parking ban on a 6-4 vote.

But then-mayor Judy Robbins vetoed it, leaving the ban in place.

The council needed eight votes to override the veto, which it did not have.

In 2007, then-Ward I city councilor Jim Hanley tried to get the ban removed, but that attempt ended in failure as well.

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

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