, Salem, MA


November 14, 2012

Down to the wire on Danvers parking ban

So how much time does it take to determine the cost for flashing blue lights to alert residents to snow emergencies?

Apparently, it can take nine months or more in Danvers.

Last January, residents asked selectmen to lift the longtime policy of banning on-street parking between Dec. 1 and April 1. In a winter when little snow fell, residents were being unnecessarily inconvenienced by having to find off-street parking every night of the week during the coldest months of the year.

That’s not always an easy task. Selectman Bill Clark last week recounted the example of a family with three cars, living in a condo complex where only one parking space is allotted per family and the nearest municipal parking lot is more than a mile away. Imagine having to deal with that for four months when there’s not a snowflake in sight.

Last January, Town Manager Wayne Marquis promised to thoroughly investigate the pros and cons of the parking ban and get back to selectmen in the summer, while there was still plenty of time to consider alternatives. But when residents asked for an update last week, they got more talk about how town officials are still investigating and need more time. They still don’t know, for example, what it would cost to purchase flashing blue lights.

Danvers has a decades-old reputation for the best-plowed streets on the North Shore, so it’s understandable that town leaders are reluctant to jeopardize that. It’s much easier to clear away snow when you can go back repeatedly, night after night, knowing that no cars will be parked on the street.

But the current all-winter ban is a major inconvenience for many town residents. And in this day and age, when there are so many ways to alert people to a coming snowstorm — automated phone alerts, texts, emails, flashing blue lights — it’s a needless inconvenience. Salem and Beverly have snow-emergency parking bans, and Peabody is about to start the same.

Let’s hope Danvers officials can get their act together quickly and adopt a reasonable parking alternative that will allow snowplows to do their jobs but still cut residents a break.

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