NASHUA — Following months of analysis, city officials finally approved a pilot program that will allow overnight parking on several downtown streets in the Tree Streets neighborhood.
In the coming weeks, up to 400 permits will be issued — at a cost of $10 per vehicle — enabling overnight parking on a portion of 22 downtown streets for the next year. Previously, overnight parking of more than two hours was banned along any public roadway in the city.
"I can see this expanding," said Alderman Arthur Craffey, Ward 4.
Craffey said that while it is good to start small with just one portion of the community, he is optimistic that other areas of the city, including portions of Wards 3, 6 and 7, might also be able to benefit in the future.
One alderman, Paul Chasse of Ward 6, was opposed to the pilot program because it was exclusive to a small section of city residents.
"You've got to treat everybody fairly," Chasse said. "Throw it out. Repeal the whole ordinance."
Chasse said Tuesday that he has received phone calls from constituents in his ward who are upset they won't be able to park on the street overnight while residents of the Tree Streets community will have that luxury.
Alderman Diane Sheehan, Ward 3, said she can appreciate the desire for other neighborhoods to also have that privilege, but she stressed the need to start with a manageable area while testing the program and making adjustments before possibly implementing it in other parts of the city.
The pilot program will enable on-street parking between midnight and 6 a.m. on a portion of the following roads: Green, Fletcher, Ash, Badger, Beech, Buck, Cedar, Central, Chestnut, Elm, Hanover, Kinsley, Mulberry, Palm, Pierce, Pine, Pleasant, Vine, Walnut, West Hollis, West Pearl and Wilder streets.
In order to obtain a permit, residents will have to offer a proof of residency by showing a current automobile registration, driver's license, utility bill issued within the last month or other evidence of residency deemed adequate by the city clerk's office.
The program will be implemented as soon as parking spaces are painted, signs are installed and the permit stickers are available. The permits will expire at the end of 2014.
There was some concern from aldermen about the cost of the permits, which was originally proposed at $100 but ultimately reduced to $10.
Alderman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja, Ward 8, questioned why the permits will only be $10 a year when permits for monthly parking passes at the city garages are $50. She also noted there will be costs associated with the project for painting, signs and printing permits. Her concerns were echoed by Alderman Kathy Vitale, Ward 1, who requested that aldermen be notified of the final cost of implementation once it is determined.
"I am shocked," responded Alderman-at-Large David Deane. "We throw $500,000 a year into Main Street (improvements) with no budget, no accounting, no design, no nothing and nobody says anything." A $10 permit fee is not a big deal, said Deane, contending the money is already in the operating budget to implement the program.
"Now is not the time to cost estimate this thing," agreed Alderman Dan Moriarty, Ward 9, stressing the focus should be on improving the Tree Streets and adopting the overnight parking plan.
The pilot program was adopted during Tuesday's meeting of the Board of Aldermen, with Chasse the only board member in opposition.