EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

October 18, 2012

Parking warnings illegally given

Tickets put on cars beforecity makes rule change

HAVERHILL — Somebody involved with the city’s paid parking program jumped the gun.

Several people who used their parking permits to park in the Merrimack Street garage in recent days received warning tickets for using spaces reserved for hourly, metered parking — or at least that’s what the bright orange tickets said.

It turns out, however, the spaces were mixed-use spaces where permit parking is allowed.

Mayor James Fiorentini asked to change the spaces in question from permit spaces to hourly spaces, but enforcement officers began ticketing before the change was considered by the City Council this week.

And when councilors did consider the change Tuesday night, they rejected the mayor’s request to give his parking commission the power to change how spaces in the garage and downtown lots are used without council approval. Five votes were required for approval. Four councilors voted in favor and three against.

In opposing the mayor’s request, Councilor William Macek held up a warning ticket given to him by a frustrated resident.

“These tickets say the changes are in effect before we approved the changes,” Macek said. “That was a mistake and it was wrong.”

“These warning tickets are the kind of thing that ticks people off,” said Councilor Michael McGonagle, who owns a downtown business on Merrimack Street.

Nearly three months ago, the city began to charge drivers to park downtown. The paid parking plan has a variety of rules governing on-street parking and the use of spaces in parking garages and lots. Haverhill adopted the plan to discourage downtown workers and train commuters from using on-street parking and therefore free up those spaces for customers of businesses.

Macek, McGonagle and Colin LePage voted against turning over control of paid lot spaces to the parking commission. Supporting it were Councilors Michael Hart, William Ryan, Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Robert Scatamacchia. Councilor Tom Sullivan abstained from voting at the recommendation of City Solicitor William Cox because Sullivan owns a parking permit. Council President John Michitson was absent.

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