Freehold Borough officials create utility as first step to paid parking

FREEHOLD – Officials in Freehold Borough have established a parking utility as part of a process that is intended to create metered parking in the municipality.

Just prior to the new year, Borough Council members adopted an ordinance establishing the Borough Parking Utility, which has the objective of managing the town’s parking operations. The ordinance states that a parking utility is an enterprise from which a municipality anticipates it will receive fees, rents and/or other charges.

“The borough can use funds in the utility for parking lot repairs, maintenance and the possible acquisition of property,” Mayor Nolan Higgins said. “We hope to use the utility to help with the costs associated with our lots and as a parking management tool. As we move forward we will ask for input from our business community and residents on how the lots can be best utilized.”

Officials said that under state statute, Freehold Borough is permitted to establish a public parking system to manage the parking operations of all public on-street and off-street parking facilities. The utility will maintain and operate the public parking system.

Council members determined a public parking system will promote the public safety and welfare for residents and visitors and said it is in the best interests of Freehold Borough to establish the utility to manage the parking operations.

The parking utility will be responsible for enforcing all laws, ordinances, rules and regulations applicable to the public parking system. It will have the authority to construct, maintain, improve and operate the public parking system in the borough.

According to the ordinance, the utility will be under the administration, operation and control of the borough administrator. The division that is responsible for maintenance, construction and improvement of all capital operations of the utility will be under the supervision of the superintendent of the Department of Streets and Roads. Parking enforcement officers will be under the direction and supervision of the police chief.

All money derived from the operation or support of a municipal public utility will be kept in a separate fund for accounting and budgetary purposes, according to the ordinance.

The mayor, with the advice and consent of a majority of the council, will have the full authority to appoint all necessary employees to the parking utility, including the parking enforcement officers under the direction and supervision of the police chief.

“It is time the people using the parking lots pay for the costs of maintaining them,” Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer said. “Studies have repeatedly recommended that we use paid parking, so it is time we do so. I support the idea of establishing a parking utility.”

The ordinance received support from downtown business owners Michael Federici of Federici’s and Mike Page of the Court Jester.

Although Federici voiced concern over the regulation and enforcement of metered parking, both businessmen said they appreciated the governing body’s effort and consideration in establishing the parking utility.

Resident Jean Holtz expressed support for the parking utility and suggested that borough officials collaborate with Downtown Freehold in establishing metered parking in town.

Downtown Freehold Business Advocate Jeffrey Friedman said the organization which promotes events and activities downtown is in favor of metered parking, but believes  money generated from parking should go toward a separate fund.