Higher parking fines possible

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Paducah City Commissioner Gayle Kaler, left, and Paducah Parks Services Director Mark Thompson sat in on the Cape Girardeau City Council meeting Monday. (Kit Doyle)

Students rushing to class at Southeast Missouri University this fall may face parking fines as high as $75.

On Monday, the city council tentatively approved a measure that would raise fines to $50 and $75 in two university neighborhoods. One is bounded by Sprigg Street on the east and West End Boulevard on the west. Broadway and New Madrid Street are the southern and northern boundaries, respectively.

The other neighborhood is in the vicinity of the new River Campus. The east-west boundaries are Aquamsi and Fountain streets. The south and north boundaries are Shawnee Parkway and William Street. Currently fines are $10 and increase to $15 if not paid in seven days.

Mayor Jay Knudtson cast the only dissenting vote, saying the measure is "a slap in the face" to students, whose positive economic impact on the city "is undeniable."

Council members John Voss and Debra Tracy pushed for the change.

Voss said students park on residential streets around campus partly because they are closer to classrooms. But students also seem to prefer paying the city's $10 and $15 parking fines over those dished out by university police. Those start at $20. Repeat offenders can pay as much as $80 and have their cars towed.

Between August and May, 804 parking tickets -- 25 percent of the city's total -- were issued in a two-block section of Alta Vista, according Carl Kinnison, Cape Girardeau's police chief.

If the ordinance is changed, Knudtson pointed out the parking fines will match the highest on the books -- for illegally parking in a handicapped space.

The change requires a second vote, set for council's July 23 meeting.

Knudtson said he would probably have voted to raise fines to $30 and may still vote for the $50 fine at the next council meeting.

Visitors from Paducah

After the meeting adjourned, council members and other city officials met with representatives from the city of Paducah, Ky. The group arrived in Cape Girardeau on Monday morning and were paired with those with similar jobs.

Paducah's parks services director, Mark Thompson, said he was "really jealous" of the Shawnee Park Sports Complex.

"We don't have anything like that," he said, adding that Cape Girardeau officials were exploring developing water parks. Cape Girardeau officials are talking about creating a single water park similar to Paducah's.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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