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Parking issue solved

  • Written by Michael Gilbert

Palos Hills residents will use Southwest
Central Dispatch again for overnight parking

Palos Hills is turning to a familiar source to solve its overnight parking issues.
  Mayor Gerald Bennett said at the city council meeting last Thursday that Southwest Central Dispatch has agreed to once again field calls from those Palos Hills residents who plan on parking their vehicle overnight on a city street.
  Southwest Central Dispatch had been taking those calls from residents for the better part of the last five years, but this past December they notified Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan that the task had become too cumbersome and they would no longer be able to provide the service.
But Bennett and Madigan recently revisited the idea with Southwest Central Dispatch and the agency said it would take the job without any cost to the city.
“We showed them the call log sheet [of those who requested overnight parking] and there really wasn’t many people so they said they could help us,” Bennett said.
Previously, residents were asked to call the Palos Hills Police Department to request permission to park overnight. When the police department was closed residents were then allowed to call 911 and a Southwest Central Dispatch operator would answer the call and then relay the information to police officers.
Once Southwest Central Dispatch stopped taking the calls in December, residents had to contact the police department during its normal business hours of 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or risk receiving an $80 ticket.
Residents are now asked to call 708-598-2151 whenever they are seeking permission for overnight parking. The police department or 911 should not be called regarding overnight parking requests, Bennett said.
Overnight parking is not allowed in Palos Hills between 2-6 a.m. any day of the week. The city does allow residents to park overnight for three consecutive days up to three times of year. Bennett said the city will be keeping track of how often a resident calls.
“This is only supposed to be for emergency situations,” he said. “We will monitor those who take advantage of it.”
Overnight parking has been a hotly debated topic of late with one alderman at the previous meeting even proposing a moratorium on tickets while a solution is reached. Other ideas from residents and city officials have ranged from setting up an answering machine for citizens to call to allowing homeowners to print out a one-time use parking pass from their computer.
After nearly four months of discussion, Bennett believes the best solution has been found.
“We looked at whether we could use a non-emergency phone [answering service], but with different officers on the street and shift changes it would be too hard to keep track,” Bennett said. “I think we’ve come up with the best idea.”
Alderman A.J. Pasek (3rd Ward) agreed this was the best option.
“This is easier than having the answering machine,” Pasek said. “It’s very similar to what we had [before Southwest Central Dispatch stopped taking calls], but we’ll just have to reeducate people on what number to call.”
To do that, Bennett said the new number will be posted on the city’s website and included in the upcoming water bill and newsletter.