3/29/20 Parking, N Salisbury St.

A usually busy street during Purdue school hours, now is left with a single car parked along N Salisbury St. 

Parking enforcement has been relaxed in West Lafayette as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting the decrease in both foot and vehicular traffic.

The West Lafayette Police Department’s Neighborhood Resource Team has reduced its enforcement of parking restrictions, mainly for areas with time limits, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to supervisor Rick Walker.

“Given the whole climate and the circumstances involved,” Walker said, “right now, there are far fewer people in the city due to this pandemic.”

Purdue encouraged students to return home and isolate themselves. This, combined with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order that took effect Wednesday, means fewer people in the city, and even fewer who choose to venture out.

“We are seeing a decrease in the volume of vehicles, and we are writing far fewer tickets (as a result),” Walker said.

However, this new leniency doesn’t mean that parking rules aren’t being enforced for “the worst of the worst, or on a complaint basis,” Walker said. “We will address those parking concerns and issues, but we have really taken a relaxed stance on parking.”

Stricter enforcement has also been applied to vital reserved areas, such as handicapped parking spaces and fire lanes.

Parking enforcement of two- and three-hour spaces downtown will be temporarily suspended to assist residents who are being asked to stay at home, according to WLFI. The city is assigning dedicated carryout spots and signage for restaurants that request it.

Upholding these rules and penalties during the COVID-19 outbreak means adapting to how fines are handled as well.

“We’ve relaxed making payments in person to try and minimize (physical contact),” Walker said. “We don’t want to expose folks unnecessarily to things, with regard to illness.”

The practice of social distancing is just one of the steps being taken to ensure health and safety.

“This is unprecedented,” Walker said. “I’ve been in the public safety realm for three decades, and we’ve never seen this. We’re talking about multiple layers of emergencies, from local all the way to the declaration made by the World Health Organization.”

Even with the measures in place, Walker foresees a return to normalcy, even if no one can estimate when.

“From a parking operations standpoint, our people will still be out, we’ll go out and do our jobs and do what we typically do,” he said. “Enforce parking and be fair.”

Recommended for you