hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


January 24, 2013

Mayor seeks input on fees

To talk with merchants, residents, about consultant's recommendation

Mayor James Fiorentini said he has not yet decided whether to support a proposed hike in downtown parking fees and hours.

Before deciding whether to support the increases, Fiorentini said he plans to talk to residents who live downtown and merchants there. He said he will also hold a meeting of his parking commission to get input from members.

“The administration isn’t ready to support or reject any of the recommendations at this time,” said the mayor’s aide, David Van Dam.

The mayor has to bring any changes before the City Council, which would make a final decision.

The city’s parking consultant has recommended the increases. Jason Schreiber of Nelson/Nygaard said the five-month-old paid parking program has gotten off to a good start for the most part, but that revenue collections for a private company running the program are coming up short.

He said more importantly, allowing free street parking in the morning and afternoon has prevented the program from opening up as many prime parking spots near restaurants and other businesses as intended.

Haverhill received a $100,000 up-front payment from SP Plus Municipal Services based on paid parking generating $250,000 by the end of this month and $400,000 by the end of its first year. However, collections total $175,000 so far and are projected to reach only $275,000 by the end of the first year, Schreiber said.

If the city doesn’t hit the benchmarks, it will get less money than expected from SP Plus over the course of its three-year contract with the company, officials said.

Schreiber said the program could still hit the benchmarks by raising the parking fee from 50 cents per hour to 75 cents or $1 per hour. He also recommended starting the paid program earlier — at 10 a.m. rather than 3 p.m. — on the downtown’s main streets.

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