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January 29, 2014

Councilor: Drop parking meters, kiosks

Says city could charge for parking by selling permits only

HAVERHILL — City Councilor William Macek wants the city to consider removing downtown’s metered parking kiosks and go to a system in which paid spaces would be available only to people with permits.

He said getting rid of the kiosks and going exclusively to permit parking would allow the city to eventually get rid of the private company that is charging the city $200,000 per year to maintain the kiosks and run the program. The city’s three-year contract with that company, SP Plus Municipal Services, expires in about 18 months, city officials said.

Paid parking, which began in August 2012, generated $373,000 in its first year — $212,000 from permit sales and $161,000 from meters, according to city officials.

Macek said many downtown merchants believe the kiosks are costing them business and money. Visitors don’t like them either, he said.

“People don’t like the kiosks,” Macek said. “I have heard people in restaurants say they have to get up and leave because the meter was about to run out. It (the paid parking program) has alleviated parking problems downtown, but maybe there’s a better way to do it.”

In getting rid of kiosks, Macek said the city could also consider going back to free short-term street parking with strictly enforced time limits. Permit parking would remain largely in downtown lots, he said.

Macek made his comments in response to a proposal by Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and the city’s Parking Commission to add a few more permit spaces and free spaces in the business district.

The council approved the request to convert five spaces in the Washington and Wingate streets lot and five spaces in the Essex and Locust streets lot from hourly meter spaces to multi-use spaces, which are open to people with a parking permit or who use the meter.

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