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Looking up Main Street. A commissioned report by Butte-Silver Bow County indicates a tremendous potential for Butte's unique uptown.

Several Uptown residents are racking up tickets for parking in front of their apartment buildings and the problem could get worse without a change, a Butte-Silver Bow commissioner said Monday.

Bill Andersen said there are a few apartment buildings that don’t have many free parking spaces within a block, so residents use two-hour spaces in front of them. Walking a block or more is not a big deal to some, but it is if you’re unloading groceries or trudging through snow.

“So they’re parking on the street in front of their doors and getting these $5 and $10 tickets,” said Andersen, whose district includes parts of Uptown. “I’m trying to figure out a way to ease that burden.”

Andersen said the problem has surfaced at apartments near Galena and Main, those in the Leonard Hotel, 205 W. Granite St., and those in the Lincoln Hotel, 207 W. Park St.

Andersen relayed his concerns to fellow commissioners a few weeks ago but then decided it was an issue the Parking Commission should address.

Former Parking Director Stephanie Marshall might have made arrangements to deal with the situation, Andersen said, but she left the post last month to take a job with the Montana Department of Transportation.

Without a change or solution, the problem likely will get worse as more buildings are renovated into condominiums or apartments, Andersen said.

“This is going to affect a lot more people,” he said.

Rob Dwyer, chairman of the parking board, said he is aware of the issue and it will be discussed when the board meets at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Chief Executive’s conference room of the Courthouse.

“We haven’t had a chance to give it much thought,” Dwyer said.

Dwyer said a letter from a concerned tenant has been forwarded to all members of the parking board and to Community Development Director Karen Byrnes.

Her department has been overseeing day-to-day operations of parking enforcement since Marshall left. The county might keep it that way and hire a third enforcement officer instead of naming another parking director.

Andersen said one possible solution is granting apartment dwellers permits allowing them to park in front of those buildings. Residents who live near Montana Tech get permits so they can park in front of their houses without being ticketed, while those without permits are fined.

Dwyer said that could be a “slippery slope.”

“When do you stop?” Dwyer said. “In some ways you could probably reserve all of Uptown for appropriate classes of parking, which would prevent anyone from visiting Uptown.”

Two-hour zones are designed to keep spaces in front of businesses open and changing hands. That would change if all spaces are reserved for residents or became loading zones.

“It’s a never-ending, out-of-balance balancing act,” Dwyer said.

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Government and politics reporter

Reporter with emphasis on government and politics.

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