Paid for the Emmitsburg Police
When the Emmitsburg Burgess and Board of Commissioners decided that the town needed a police force for public safety, they had to find a way to pay for it. They voted to install parking meters along Main Street in 1949.
“Naturally, there was a lot of opposition to the parking meters, but parking space was limited along Main Street and there were quite a few thriving businesses that needed the spaces for their customers,” Don Rodgers wrote in an article on Emmitsburg.net. “Some residents tended to use the spaces as their personal garage and seldom moved their vehicles.”
The town purchased 152 meters at $58.50 each to be installed along Main Street, from Frailey’s Store on West Main to the Community Pure Food Store on East Main. No meters were installed on North or South Seton Avenue, but parking was restricted to one side of the street. One-hour parking would be allowed on the square and two-hour parking would be allowed along Main Street.
After the vote, opposition to the meters quickly grew as petitions were circulated to try and force the commissioners to reverse their decision. In March 1949, 25 citizens met with the commissioners. Euphemia Rotering, the group leader, presented the commissioners a petition signed by 45 people, nearly half of which were business owners.
James Hays, president of the board of commissioners, told the group, “that even the lawmakers themselves were not in favor of the ‘timers,’ but it was the only immediate way to derive revenue to maintain a constabulary in the Town, and that unless there were some other means by which they (the Town) could pay the added expenses of police protection, the Town officials would proceed with the placing of the meters,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.
The town’s assessable tax base at the time was around $800,000, and to pay for the expenses of a small police force would require the town to nearly double its tax rate.
The group threatened to get an injunction to stop the installation of the meters, but it never came to be.
The meters were purchased from Michael Art Bronze Company of Washington, D.C. Installation was started after notice was posted about the restricted parking and the public was given time to adjust to the changes.
Installation of the meters began at the end of March, although it was delayed a few days because of bad weather.
By mid-April, before the town even knew how much money the meters would earn, a police chief was hired. Four men applied, but H.C. Woodring of Waynesboro was hired. He had spent the previous seven years as a Waynesboro police officer. Prior to that, he had been the chief guard for the Landis Company, overseeing 10 to 20 guards during World War II. He had assisted the FBI on cases.
One of the jobs of the new two-man police force was to enforce the parking regulations created with the installation of the parking meters that were paying their salaries.
Costs and revenues from the meters were shared 50/50 between Michael Art Bronze Company and the town. This lasted for nine months. At the end of the trial period, the town decided to purchase the meters outright.