Folks object to new parking meters near Durham Senior Center

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Folks are upset over new parking meters installed outside of a Durham senior center (WTVD)

Durham leaders are trying to find a resolution to a problem they didn't anticipate when installing 1,000 new parking meters downtown.

Senior citizens don't want to pay the meters recently installed near the Durham Center for Senior Life; they say it's too costly.

On any given day, the parking lot at the Durham Center for Senior Life is packed full of vehicles. The overflow ends up on the side of the street off Risgsbee Avenue and surrounding streets where the meters are now located.

Judith Wittenberg, a senior citizen, says she is not going to wait up to an hour searching for a space, nor will she pay a $1.50 per hour to park on the street.

She and other seniors who use the Senior Center are against the City's installation of new parking meters - an effort to improve parking turnover.

"I'm not going to spend six bucks to spend a couple hours at the center," Wittenberg says. "People can't afford to do that. I can't afford to do that. That's going to curtail how much I come here."

Managers at the Durham Center for Senior Life say they have seen a 20 percent drop in attendance since the new parking meters were installed.

Thursday, members of the senior citizen community delivered 300 petitions to city leaders during their midday work session.

Berta Summers-Pugh, 73, told the council that seniors who are on a fixed income can't afford the extra expense to enjoy their daily outlet at the Senior Center. It's a sanctuary many say they cannot afford to miss.

"This would be a tragedy to our senior citizens of Durham," said Summers-Pugh.

Mayor Bill Bell, 76, says they are working with the Senior Center to determine what works best for all.

"It's not an easy solution to it. We just don't have an answer today," Bell said.

The money collected from the meters goes into the city's parking system for maintenance projects and future parking needs.

The City of Durham's transportation department released the following statement:

"It has come to our attention that during the Center's peak operating hours there is limited parking in the Center's surface parking lot. The City is collaborating with officials at the Center to address their concerns regarding the newly launched metered on-street parking and to work toward a feasible solution. We would like to thank our parking customers for their understanding as the City adapts to a downtown metered parking environment."

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