Ordinance OK'd for valet parking

The City Council approved an ordinance this
week that will regulate valet parking, a service praised by
some downtown officials as a way to improve parking flow and
customer convenience.

The ordinance is scheduled to take effect after a 21-day
waiting period, and will allow businesses to apply for
permits if they wish to provide valet parking.

"It was brought forward by the business community to
make downtown Springfield more user friendly and
safer," said Councilor Kateri B. Walsh, chairwoman of
the Maintenance and Development Committee. "It creates
a good environment."

Under valet parking, customers can drive up to a business
such as a restaurant, hand their keys to an attendant who
then parks the car and retrieves it when the customers are
ready to leave.

Rudi R. Scherff, owner of the Student Prince and Fort
Restaurant on Fort Street, said he may be the only business
that already uses valet parking, but believes others will
join the practice.

"Customers enjoy valet," Scherff said. "They
don't have to walk, especially in this kind of weather.
People feel more secure."

Under the ordinance, the cost for a valet space is $2 per
year per foot of curb required to operate the service
between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in parking areas without meters.
In places where there are meters, the valet operator must
cover those meters during operating hours, and will be
charged the annual rate plus a fee that matches the hourly
rate for used meter hours.

The valet operators also must secure a $1 million liability
insurance policy.

"It eliminates the fly-by night people," Scherff
said of the ordinance.

Councilor Timothy J. Rooke initiated the ordinance last
year in conjunction with downtown business representatives,
the Law Department and the Springfield Parking Authority.

The ordinance is not overly restrictive, Walsh said. The
valet attendants do not have to wear a specific uniform,
with the businesses setting their own uniform policy, she

The ordinance was initially proposed last year, and was
temporarily shelved when some business owners raised
concerns that it might be too restrictive. The ordinance was
re-drafted and multiple meetings held with business
representatives leading to the council vote this week.

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