NEW BERN, NC (WITN) Beginning July 9th drivers in New Bern will need to pay special attention to where they are parking, as changes and stricter enforcement will be implemented citywide.
Officials from the city say they will be hiring 3 to 4 part-time parking enforcers who will be trained by the New Bern Police Department and the Visitor and Convention Center.
Those parking enforcers will be patrolling streets Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. using an "electronic chalk" system to monitor license plates to ensure drivers are obeying the posted 2-hour time limits.
According to Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel, who represents the downtown area, the point of the enforcement is to help keep prime parking spaces along the streets open for customers. She says, "It's a positive thing that we have a lot of people visiting our downtown and we want to make sure they're welcome and that they feel good about our community. We want to make sure they have a place to park and turnover, and we want to make sure our employees have safe parking as well."
Employees and business owners are now also being asked to park in one of the three all-day parking lots scattered throughout the downtown area, instead of parking on the streets. A traffic study conducted by the city showed that all three of those lots were less than an 8-minute walk to any destination in the downtown area.
Visitors who enjoy spending the day in the downtown area did raise concerns over the strictly enforced 2-hour time limit.
Margaret Post says, "I'm a shopper, so you tell me to be out of here in 2 hours and I'm in trouble. I won't come here. I'll go somewhere else, and have dinner elsewhere."
Even with the changes to enforcement, parking will remain free in all of New Bern's public downtown parking areas.
The first time a parking ticket is issued to a vehicle, the driver will receive only a warning, but the second infraction comes with a $25.00 fine.