This post includes new data from the Philadelphia Inquirer at the bottom.

One thing you can say about Widener, they can get in a courtroom fast. It seems like it was only yesterday they filed suit against the city of Chester for chopping up their sidewalks to install parking meters and we read in this mornings Delaware County Daily Times they’ve already been in front of a judge.

The order stems from a complaint and petition filed by the university to block some 480 to 700 meters from being installed around campus that would charge $2 per hour.

If the City wasn’t putting in 1,200 meters as first reported, why didn’t someone say something?

Chester’s mayor said they were not “targeting” Widener but the city was no longer going to play Mr. Nice Guy and continue to allow the students ‘to commandeer whole blocks, and park in spots reserved for handicapped residents.’

The judge said…

…any issues involving parking enforcement and Widener students might be better addressed by simply providing residents with parking permits and ticketing or towing scofflaws.

The mayor told the judge that the quarters collected from the meters would be…

…revenue that goes right back into the areas where those meters are being placed, when it comes to highway repair, meter repair and some other things that need to be taken care of.

That doesn’t sound real convincing.

The attorney representing the city who happens to not be the city solicitor offered this nugget of knowledge…

…authority was vested in Mayor Kirkland by ordinance last year to enforce parking in the city or to designate another enforcement program.

The term ‘parking chaos’ comes up frequently. The Widener attorney says this…

…the plan would have the opposite effect of controlling parking chaos in the city because it would reduce the number of spaces around campus by about 20 percent, pushing many commuter students further into residential areas outside the umbrella of campus security.

Maybe these parking meters are a good way to get Widener students to spend some time on the other side of I-95 and into Chester City neighborhoods in search of free parking.

Speaking on behalf of Chester is a new name, Anthony Campisi, not the usual Aigner Cleveland, Director the City Communications / Press Secretary. Campisi says…

The city of Chester embarked on its parking plan in response to community concerns over parking enforcement and parking congestion and negotiated an agreement that provides for $5 to $6 million of new parking infrastructure, including improvements to city-owned lots and two automated license plate readers that can identify stolen cars, with no cost or risk to the city.

So, the city is getting all this new parking related stuff for free? Were the same community folks concerned over parking enforcement and parking congestion also involved in coming up with the solution and agreed with what the City came up with?

…the school decided to file a baseless lawsuit.

Baseless? I guess we’ll have to wait for the judge’s ruling to learn how baseless the lawsuit is.

No person in his or her right mind could believe that installing parking meters around Widener will lead to a precipitous drop in enrollment or tens of millions of dollars in financial losses for the school.

I also wonder how precipitous the drop in enrollment would be and how Widener will quantify lost revenue due to parking meters. But $2 an hour to park is a lot of money, especially for a struggling college student.

Grandstanding and hyperventilated arguments don’t lend themselves to reasonable conversations.

But reasonable conversations can prevent grandstanding and hyperventilated arguments.

It seems there were no talks between the city and Widener before this plan was rolled out for some reason or another. I don’t equate taking this matter to court as grandstanding, but maybe there’s been some behind the scene kicking and screaming.

UPDATE

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer…

As part of the city’s deal with the vendors, Chester would pay nothing for the meters. Instead, PFS would foot the multimillion-dollar bill for installing the meters and PFS and Pango would regularly take their cuts of the revenues collected. Eventually, over 3 installments, PFS would pay Chester $1 million for its involvement in the project. The money would be deposited in to the city’s general fund and be used for such matters as fixing potholes and damaged parking lots.

I think that means that for the life of the meters being in Chester, the city will receive a total of $1 million. Let’s do the math again using a more conservative number of meters…

500 meters x 4 hours a day x 5 days a week x $2/hr x 52 weeks = $1,040,000 per year.

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland called the contracts a good deal.

…for the contractors.