“We want to give the Parking Commission a little bit more flexibility so they can change space usage without getting council approval,” Fiorentini said.
The process of obtaining council approval even applies to making temporary changes, the mayor said.
For instance, when the city installed boat docks in the Merrimack River this past summer behind the Tap restaurant, a few permit-only parking spaces had to be temporarily eliminated along the flood wall to accommodate the work. That also required a slow process that included council approval, the mayor said.
“We need the flexibility to be able to allow permit parkers to park in other spots without going to the City Council every time,” Fiorentini said.
The mayor stressed major changes, such as changing parking rates or terms of the contract with the company running the program, would continue to require council approval.
A third change to the parking plan up for consideration tonight is converting four “loading-only’’ spaces on Washington Street to spaces that are reserved not only for business deliveries, but also 15-minute parking for customers of nearby businesses. The spaces are in front of Andino’s Pizzeria at 64 Washington St.
Meanwhile, Stankovich said the city is planning two public meetings on paid parking as it approaches its three-month anniversary Nov. 1.
“People seem to be getting used to the rules and the plan seems to be settling in,” Stankovich said. “But we want to continue to hear people’s concerns and suggestions.”
On weekdays, drivers must pay 50 cents per hour from 3 to 8 p.m. to park on Washington, Essex, Granite and Wingate streets. Street parking is free from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but is limited to two hours.
Drivers pay 50 cents per hour to park in city lots, the same as on-street parking. The city has also sold more than 800 parking permits for $15 per month to people who live or work downtown. The permits are for permit-only and mixed-use spaces in various lots near the downtown train station.