ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Issues related to available parking near the senior center were brought to the Times Leader.
Area senior Clarence Briggs noted that recent work on the courthouse parking lot has meant the elimination of 10 parking spaces and impacted seniors' accessibility to the senior center.
"All the parking is by permit. If you don't have a permit, you can't park there, and if you do park there they can have your car towed away. That's not a good way to treat seniors."
T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK
THE PARKING spaces near the St. Clairsville Senior Center are in high demand. The county has taken measures to make spaces available and ease transportation.
He said that while spaces have been set aside, several were designated handicapped spaces, not solely for the use of seniors.
"When you're doing away with parking spots, you're doing away with spaces seniors can park," he said, adding that the lot is located conveniently across from the senior center.
He said there have been complaints from the seniors and he believes there has been a drop in attendants at the center. Briggs said seniors who park uptown can be transported by van to the center, but this also limits their available time to socialize, since they are dependent on the van driver's schedule.
"Seniors want to socialize. They don't want to just each lunch and go. That's not the purpose of the senior center," Briggs said.
Briggs noted the importance of available parking.
He added that seniors who frequent the center come from as far away as Lafferty, Maynard and Morristown.
"Hardly anyone is within walking distance," he said. In addition, parking spots around the courthouse are often taken by oil and gas interests. While seniors have permission to use the lower parking lot of St. Marys Church, it is also two blocks away.
Commissioner Matt Coffland said the commissioners are making every effort to accommodate the needs of the seniors, considering the requirements and demands for parking.
He pointed out the four handicapped accessible spots as well as four permits for the parking lot, creating eight spaces to make up for the lost 10.
"The seniors are not employees of the county, and the parking is for county employees," he said, adding that demands for parking have been high. "It is what it is. It's a busy time for the county. We've tried to accommodate seniors the best that we can."
He added that 140 permits have been issued for the lot, which holds about 50.
"It's first come, first serve," Coffland said. "A lot of our employees have to look for other spots."
In addition, commissioners must also provide parking spaces for jurors during trials.
Coffland added that he has heard almost no complaints from seniors after the initial reaction to the plan. A complete map of the city's public, private and permit-accessible parking is available in brochure form at the courthouse.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org