HAVERHILL — The Goecke Parking Garage on Merrimack Street is getting its own cleaning attendant.
Mayor James Fiorentini will ask City Council tonight for approval to tap the city’s paid parking account to pay the new worker’s salary. The mayor said the cleaning attendant will also be responsible for picking up trash at a number of public lots where people are being charged to park.
Fiorentini is seeking approval to use $3,860 in paid parking money to fund the part-time position through the end of the fiscal year June 30. He said he intends to include $19,000 in next year’s city budget to pay for the position for a full year. The paid parking program began last August.
“What people have been telling us is that if we are going to make them pay to park in the garage and make them walk a little further, that we need to make the garage clean and safe,” the mayor said, adding that better lighting and other improvements have also been made in the Merrimack Street garage.
In the Goecke Garge and in downtown lots, drivers pay 50 cents per hour to park or purchase $15-per-month permits reserved for people who live or work downtown. The paid program is Monday through Friday. Street parking is free and limited to two hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Washington, Essex, Granite and Wingate streets. Drivers pay 50 cents per hour from 3 to 8 p.m. on those streets.
Last summer, the city received a $100,000 up-front payment from SP Plus Municipal Services to manage the paid parking program, which was initially projected to generated about $400,00 in its first year. Recently, however, the city indicated collections have been lower than expected and the mayor’s office floated the idea of raising the parking fees.
Yesterday, Fiorentini said there’s about $15,000 left in the paid parking account. He said the money has been used primarily to clean and remove snow from the garage and downtown lots. But he said some money has also been used to reconfigure parking areas on Bailey Boulevard; to move some parking meters around; to pay the city’s parking consultant and several temporary “parking ambassadors” who were hired last summer to help the public use the new meters; and to purchase flowers for downtown.