EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 22, 2008

Lighting the way downtown; Better parking lot lighting to make visitors feel safe, councilor says

HAVERHILL - Business owners and city leaders are constantly scheming over how to draw more people downtown for dining and shopping.

They come up with themes during the holidays - the Christmas Stroll and couples events for Valentine's Day. They hang banners and adopt special advertising campaigns.

Part of the recipe for success may be as simple as adding a few light bulbs, City Councilor Robert Scatamacchia says.

Scatamacchia wants the city to improve the lighting in the Wingate Street parking lot downtown, which is used by residents, diners and shoppers. He said the lot, in the heart of downtown, is too dark for some people to feel comfortable parking there.

The parking lot holds about 75 cars in the heart of downtown between Washington and Wingate streets. Residents who live in surrounding apartment buildings park in the lot, as well as customers of local restaurants and bars, such at the Peddler's Daughter across the street.

John Rowell, the building manager at the four-story Jaques Pilling Place apartment complex, said the lot is dark, especially in the early evening because existing lights don't turn on until later in the evening. Some of his residents use the lot.

For safety reasons, "it should be a little better lit," Rowell said.

Scatamacchia said former City Councilor David Swartz told him about the problem. A woman Swartz knows lives downtown and felt unsafe walking to her car in the evening because the Wingate Street lot was dark, Scatamacchia said.

City Council will discuss the parking lot lighting at its meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. in City Hall.

Haverhill is preparing for more than 800 new condominiums and apartments planned for downtown and the influx of vehicles they will bring, and parking is key to the revitalization effort.

Mayor James Fiorentini is focused on finalizing plans for a new parking garage in Railroad Square. Preliminary estimates call for between 350 and 550 spaces in a structure standing 52 to 63 feet tall. It will be five or six levels high and may cost up to $20,000 per space to build, estimates show.


Shedding light on the Wingate Street lot

Where: In the heart of downtown, between Wingate and Washington streets

Size: 75 spaces

Neighborhood character: Mix of condominiums, restaurants, bars and shops

The problem: Not enough lights - and the existing ones come after darkness has already set in.

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