NASHUA — Downtown patrons won one significant parking battle on Tuesday but lost a second one that could have saved them even more quarters.
This week, the Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance amending the time motorists must begin feeding the downtown parking meters and pay stations.
Currently, parking meter regulations are in effect from 8 a.m. to either 6 or 7 p.m. depending on the parking zone. However, city officials voted on Tuesday to start the meter times at 9 a.m. daily, allowing an extra hour of free parking for early morning downtown visitors.
The change will go into effect once the meters and pay stations can be adjusted to notify patrons of the new hours or at least within three months.
The proposal was introduced by Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly, who said that eliminating one hour of parking revenue will be beneficial to the downtown diners.
Alderman Dan Moriarty, Ward 9, said there is not a lot of traffic along Main Street at 8 a.m., maintaining the earlier meter time was hindering the few businesses that are open at that hour.
The board supported the time change to 9 a.m., but not before also addressing a separate request to shorten the meter times even further.
“We are trying to make downtown user friendly,” said Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6, who suggested that the pay stations and parking meters end at 5 p.m. rather than the assigned 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. depending on the location.
The ultimate goal, said Chasse, is to encourage people to visit the downtown area, not raise extra revenue for the city.
Alderman Mike Tabacsko, Ward 5, argued that the downtown parking zones previously created seem to be working, and adjusting them now may not be appropriate.
“In the end, revenue is moving in the direction that we expected and hoped,” he said. The revenue from the parking pay stations and parking meters is reinvested into the downtown area to make it better, Tabacsko said.
Chasse’s motion to amend the ordinance and close meter times at 5 p.m. was not supported by the majority of the board.
The motion to delay the starting meter time to 9 a.m., however, was ultimately approved.
Meanwhile, Alderman-at-Large David Deane said he has other concerns with the new parking pay stations that were installed this summer. Specifically, he said, it is difficult to find the pay stations along Main Street because they are too low to the ground.
“I think these things should be more clearly marked,” said Deane, displaying photographs of the pay stations to his fellow aldermen and questioning why the pay stations aren’t higher like in other communities.
Deane also mentioned the need for an ordinance that could possibly eliminate parking meters on Quincy Street, explaining employees who work in that area are being forced to arrive at work more than an hour early to secure a parking spot. Then, he said, they are spending $9 a day or about $45 a week to park their cars.
“We’ve got to do something about that,” said Deane.