HAVERHILL — The mayor and City Council are close to a compromise in their tug of war over downtown’s paid parking spaces.
That’s good news for merchants and residents who asked for changes to some spaces, but have been waiting for city leaders to make a decision.
Last month, the council rejected a request from Mayor James Fiorentini to give his Parking Commission the power to make changes on its own to paid spaces in two downtown lots and on Washington Street. The changes were requested by downtown merchants and residents, the mayor said. The council rejected the proposal, however, with those opposed saying they want to retain oversight of paid parking.
Last week, Fiorentini submitted a new proposal that would, if passed, give him the authority to make temporary changes on his own that would be in effect for up to 45 days. During that span, the mayor would to convince councilors to sign off on the changes or they would revert back. Councilor William Macek was the first to float the idea of such a compromise.
“There are times when the city is going to need the flexibility to respond quickly to new conditions,” Macek said. “But I still think the council should retain the final say, so residents and business owners have a place to go when they have concerns or questions about something the city is doing downtown.”
Fiorentini said the compromise would allow him to make immediate changes to paid spaces, recommended to him by residents and businesses. Those spaces are in the public lot across from Maria’s restaurant, in the Merrimack Street garage and on Washington Street.
However, he said the primary reason he wants to be able to make changes in the future without a prolonged process involving the council is so the city can quickly modify parking rules this winter during and after snowstorms.