Parking Meter on Lincoln Square

A parking meter on Lincoln Square has a sticker that includes the holidays when there is free parking in Gettysburg. (Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times)

Gettysburg Borough does not currently observe Juneteenth as a parking holiday, which means tickets are still issued.

Gettysburg Borough Manager Charles Gable said the borough issues parking tickets based on an ordinance that outlines certain days of on-street parking as free within the borough.

On June 19, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to gain control of the state and free all enslaved people, despite the war concluding months earlier, according to History.com.

On June 17, 2021, the president signed a bill recognizing June 19 as a federal holiday.

For Juneteenth to be a free parking day in the borough, Gable said the council would need to amend its parking ordinance.

“It hasn’t been discussed at the council level just yet,” Gable said, adding that they “have not expressed an interested in doing this.”

The council can amend the ordinance at any time, he said.

Cumberland Township resident Mike Strong saw two parking tickets on vehicles along Chambersburg Street and watched the parking authority issue another ticket near Christ Lutheran Church on Monday, June 20, which was the date Juneteenth was observed.

Strong did not get a ticket, but he said he spoke with people who were upset about tickets being issued Monday.

“It is a holiday now,” Strong said. “Pennsylvania recognizes it as a federal holiday.”

Strong acknowledged the stickers on the parking meter heads do not list Juneteenth as one of the holidays where parking is free of charge.

The meter stickers indicate the following holidays are free parking: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s birthday, Presidents’ Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Residents must pay for street parking Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 1-8 p.m., according to the sticker.

Gettysburg Borough Council President Wesley K. Heyser said the council plans to discuss “holidays for on-street payment parking in the future, including the consideration of adding Juneteenth.”

“As parking in the Borough of Gettysburg is a seven days per week operation, our ordinance 15-406 does not grant free parking on the observation days used by the state and federal governments when a fixed date holiday falls on a weekend,” Heyser said. “For example, should New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day or Christmas fall on a weekend, payment for parking is suspended on that day, just as it would be had it occurred on any other day of the week.”

If the borough opts to observe June 19, Heyser said “the precedent in the ordinance would be to designate the actual holiday,” as the day payment is not required for on-street parking. This does not always match with the state and federal observation date, if the holiday occurs on a weekend as it did this year, Heyser said.

“The borough council could elect to begin suspending payment on observation dates, however there are some complications in how to communicate that to the public,” Heyser said. “At current, the practice is to list the holidays by name on the stickers on each meter head.”

If the council were to add Juneteenth, Heyser said the meter head stickers would need to be replaced by June 19, 2023.

“Given the small amount of room on the meters, it would be difficult to articulate the concept of observation dates,” Heyser said. “However, the council has the authority to take whatever action it chooses regarding suspending payment for parking.”

If council were to amend the parking ordinance, Gable said it would be for next year. Tickets already issued on June 19 and 20 this year would still need to be paid, said Gable.

“It is not retroactive,” he said.

Readers may contact Vanessa Sanders at vsanders@gettysburgtimes.com.

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