Big fines for parking on grass at North Park debated

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The Allegheny County police superintendent told county council members Wednesday night that steep fines issued to North Park patrons who parked on the grass were partially a misunderstanding.

Tickets issued during Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekends should not have designated a fine since those are determined by district judges, police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.

The fine for parking on the grass at a county park, set by council in 2006, is $100 to $300. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said last week he heard from people frustrated over receiving tickets from county police that, with court fees, added up to $370. He asked police to issue warnings instead of tickets, although Superintendent Moffatt said Wednesday night that police have not been ordered to stop issuing tickets.

Parking on the grass, he added, doesn't present as much of a safety issue as an aesthetic one.

Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, R-Mt. Lebanon, said she "respectfully disagreed" and felt parking could cause safety issues. She spoke during council's parks committee meeting, which immediately followed the budget and finance session.

Parks committee Chairman Nicholas Futules, D-Oakmont, said an ordinance that proposes lowering the parking ticket fee to $50 is just a suggestion.

County public works began adding 85 more parking spaces to North Park on Monday, which should be completed by this weekend. Thirty-five spots will be added to a lot off Pearce Mill, and 50 more will be added to the right of the Rose Barn.

Ms. Heidelbaugh said she was concerned the home rule charter had been violated because she had neither voted on the project nor knew where the funding was coming from until she read about it in the newspaper. Mr. McKain told the committee the county solicitor said the project didn't need council approval.

Lexi Belculfine:, 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc.

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