The program is designed to dissuade long-term parking by people such as commuters who ride the train and those who live and work downtown from parking for hours at a time in the heart of the business district. Instead, the city wants them to park on roads at the edge of downtown, such as Bailey Boulevard where parking is free. The idea is to open pay spaces near restaurants and other businesses for customers and other short-term visitors to come and go quickly and conveniently.
Last month, officials said the city’s two parking enforcement officers handed out 400 tickets in the first month of the program — about four times as many as were given out in an average month prior to the program’s Aug. 1 start. Haverhill doled out 676 tickets from Jan. 1 to July 31, or about 95 per month, the mayor said. Prior to paid parking, the city enforced two-hour parking limits on downtown streets, but not in the many public lots scattered about the central business district, he said.
The mayor said the increased ticketing was expected and not likely to subside much. Many of the tickets were forgiven during a grace period.
Of the 300 tickets that stuck, 199 went to drivers who put no money in the meter, the mayor said. Another 19 were given to people whose time limit expired, and the rest went to people who parked in permit-only spots without a permit or parked for more than two hours in a spot where parking is limited to a maximum of two hours, he said.
Earlier this month, the city created 23 additional free parking spaces on Bailey Boulevard at downtown’s northern edge by converting existing parallel parking spaces into diagonal spaces that drivers back into.
Haverhill has received $100,000 so far from SP Plus Municipal Services, the company running paid parking for the city, and will receive another $100,000 later if the program generates $250,000 in the first six months or $500,000 after a year.