EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 28, 2014

Merchants want more parking for workers

City considers changes to paid parking downtown

By Shawn Regan
sregan@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — City Council will consider adding more permit parking spaces downtown to accommodate business owners and their workers.

Public Works Director Michael Stankovich is proposing that 10 spaces — five in the Washington and Wingate streets lot and five in the Essex and Locust streets lot — be converted from hourly meter spaces to multi-use spaces, which are open to people with a parking permit or who use the meter.

Stankovich, who oversees the paid parking program, said the changes are the result of complaints from business owners that there are not enough permit spaces for their employees. At the same time, Stankovich said the business owners said they have noticed unused spaces that are reserved for hourly parkers.

“Parking spaces counts verified that a few more multi-use spaces could be allocated without jeopardizing parking spaces for short-term parkers,” Stankovich said in a memo to councilors.

Stankovich is also recommending that seven spaces in the Howe Street parking lot be converted from hourly pay spaces to free spaces where parking would be permitted for a maximum of 15 minutes.

“The parking commission heard from some merchants in this area that there were not enough free short-term spaces for their customers,” Stankovich said.

The council has final say over most changes to the paid parking plan. Recommendations for changes to the plan typically come from Stankovich and Mayor James Fiorentini’s parking commission.

The paid parking program, in its second year, 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 peripheral roadways such as Bailey Boulevard where parking is free. The idea is this will open up pay spaces near restaurants and other businesses for customers and other short-term visitors to come and go quickly and conveniently.

City officials have made several changes to the plan in the last year, mostly trading hourly metered spaces for permit spaces, and vice versa.

The plan has a variety of rules governing on-street parking and the use of spaces in parking garages and lots. On weekdays, drivers must pay 50 cents per hour from 3 to 8 p.m. to park on Washington, Essex, Granite and Wingate streets. Street parking is free from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but is limited to two hours. Drivers pay 50 cents per hour to park in city lots, the same as on-street parking.