SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 25, 2012

Councilors assail parking plan

Salem officials will vote on some changes this Thursday

(Continued)

The problem, councilors said, is it doesn’t work in several areas.

According to Ward 1 Councilor Bob McCarthy, almost nobody is parking along the Congress Street bridge because passes aren’t being sold for that zone. Worse, he said other motorists can’t park there because it is restricted to people with passes.

“The problem is that when no one buys the passes, you have a whole bunch of empty spaces where no one can park,” McCarthy said.

“With October coming, you have 20 some spots right near the downtown where no one can park. It doesn’t make sense.”

Concerns also were raised about zone passes for Gedney, Norman and Dodge streets, and Holyoke Square, but those issues were kept in committee for the time being.

Councilors also contended that the installation of four-hour meters on lower Lafayette Street, in front of a hardware store and optician, are hurting businesses.

When Ward 7 Councilor Joe O’Keefe said he couldn’t find a space there one day, a city official said an analysis shows that spaces are available.

Tom Daniel, the city’s economic development manager, said they have been monitoring Lafayette Street three times a week, and at least three times on each of those days.

“The data is showing we’re meeting the (plan) objective” of at least one open space per city block, he said.

However, Richard Rizkalla, the owner of Banville Optical, 88 Lafayette St., told a different story. He said many of his elderly customers can’t find parking near the store.

“We’ve seen a dramatic decrease — probably 10 percent of our business has been decreased since parking (meters) went from two to four hours,” he said.

Councilors voted unanimously to recommend returning to two-hour meters. The proposal will go before the full council Thursday for the first of two required votes.

“I put a lot of faith in what store owners are telling us,” Councilor-at-large Arthur Sargent said.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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