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$50 parking fine around scenic lake examined

Select Board supports police chief’s plan

DUBLIN — Police Chief Steve Sullivan once again met with the Select Board on Monday to present his proposal to increase parking fines in Dublin, from $10 to $50, and received unanimous support from the board.

During the board’s monthly meeting with the police chief, Sullivan and Selectmen Sturdy Thomas, Paul Delphia and Chair Sterling Abram agreed that raising the fines would help officers enforce parking regulations.

The chief’s proposal includes increasing the fines for three different parking violations. The fine for parking around Dublin Lake would go from $10 to $50, fines for parking in a fire lane would go up from $25 to $100, and fines for parking in a handicap spot would go from $50 to $250, which is the state established fine for this violation.

“It is not that I want to increase the parking fine revenues, I just want people to stop parking illegally and causing hazard for others,” Sullivan said.

But, the 400 percent increase proposed by the Chief would make fines in Dublin at least twice as expensive as multiple other towns in the state. In Portsmouth, fines for parking in a “No parking area” are $20 and go up to $40 30 days after the ticket is issued. In Hampton, the fine for parking in a prohibited area or having an expired parking meter is $25. In Wolfeboro, most parking fines, including exceeding time in a two-hour parking spot and parking in a fire lane, are $15.

The fines for leaving an expired parking meter in Keene are $5 and increase to $10 if not paid 14 days after issuance, In Peterborough, the fine for exceeding time in 30-minute or two-hour parking spots or blocking driveways is $10, and the fine for parking around the town beach, Cunningham Pond, without a permit is $25. In Jaffrey, parking tickets for parking on the sidewalk or non-parking areas is $10. All of these towns apply a $250 fine for those who violate handicap parking regulations, except for Peterborough which usually applies a town ordinance that sets the fine at $55.

Sullivan explained that $50 is just a number he came up with to reduce violations. “I didn’t do a lot of research on neighboring communities. If $50 is too much, we can discuss it,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the parking situation in Dublin is a growing issue. “This weekend there was a 911 call about a car parked on Lake Road. They had parked right in between the [no parking] signs, and someone considered it an emergency and called 911 to reported it,” Sullivan said.

Because fines are low, Sullivan said some residents and visitors don’t take the regulations seriously.

“The problem is that people go hiking up the mountain, and park wherever they want because a $10 parking is not really hurting them. At least we want them to think, I’m not going to park illegally because the fine is too high,” Sullivan said.

Despite the selectmen’ support for Sullivan’ plan, the changes may have to be discussed in a public hearing. “The police chief is going to do research to figure out if they need to have a public hearing to implement the changes,” Town administrator Sherry Miller said in an interview Wednesday.

Miller said the next steps will be discussed when Sullivan meets with the Select Board again in July.

“We are in agreement to support those changes, but we just need to do some research in the current ordinances,” Select Board Chair Sterling Abram said at Monday’s meeting.

In other business, Sullivan also brought up concerns regarding the facilities at the police station. Sullivan said the building lacks a temporary prison and a restroom for people taken into custody. “We have our administrative assistant in the same room as the people we arrest. It involves a lot of risk,” Sullivan said. The board suggested considering the basement of the station as a possible location for the future construction of a temporary prison, a booking room and a restroom.

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