Council to Consider Banning 4-Hour Meters at Steve's Quality Market

Mayor Driscoll urges council to wait 90 days to give the new parking plan time to educate parkers.

Going against the request of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll to give the new parking plan 90 days before making changes, the City Council voted Thursday night to take up the issue of parking meters near and the .

Steve's Quality Market at 36 Margin St., which was called “a Salem icon,” is that limit parking to 15 minutes in spaces in front and beside the store with four-hour parking meters.

The market owners have been . Ward 2 Councilor Michael Sosnowski pointed out that the number of signatures on the petition was more than all of those 2,957 people who voted in the last city election.

“If I have ever heard of anything that screamed mandate, this is it,” Sosnowski said.

Driscoll urged the council Thursday to delay making changes for 90 days to give the parking plan a chance.

“The City understands the concerns expressed and plans to work to address all of them in a  number of ways,” the mayor's chief of staff Jason Silva wrote in a letter. “At present, we have a hodgepodge of parking arrangements largely because we haven’t looked at the parking system in a comprehensive manner. This plan does that and gives our downtown parking some structure and order. The implementation roll out has an education component for users, as well as a built in evaluation after 90 days.

“After the 90-day review period, the City intends to review the plan as implemented to determine if the new parking regulations are working as desired and, if they are not, how best to make modifications so that they are. We are also taking a longer look at certain areas of the downtown where meters are planned for installation that do not have them now, like the area surrounding Steve’s Market, to make sure that it is warranted.”

Ward 7 Councilor Joe O'Keefe urged his colleagues to wait the 90 days before making any changes in the parking plan. O'Keefe, who noted that he voted against the parking plan last June, said, “next week somebody else will want to change the parking in front of their place.”

'Some Things Can't Wait'

Sosnowski disagreed. “Some things can wait. Some things can't. This (four-hour parking meters in front of the post office and the market) needs to be addressed now.”

The issue was referred to Sosnowski's committee on Ordinances, Licences and Legal Affairs. He said he would have the committee address the issue as quickly as possible.

The parking plan also was criticized because it does not have 15-minute parking in front of restaurants and businesses that have short-term shoppers  or customers seeking food carry out. There is also a lack of loading zones in some areas that need them, Sosnowski said.

“We are putting these businesses at risk,” he said.

In addition to Steve's Market and the post office, businesses that would be affected by the four-hour meters include New Life Cuts, Salon L'Ondina, Extra Effort Exercise Studio and North Shore Driving School.

Regulating Fortune Tellers and Tour Guides

In other business, the council moved a step closer to enacting an ordinance that regulates fortune teller businesses. There is currently a moratorium on issuing new business licenses for fortune tellers.

Under the proposed new ordinance, a business could not get a new license for fortune telling unless telling fortunes amounts to at least 70 percent of its total business.

The city is also preparing to give Salem tour guides a test to qualify as a certified tour guide.

In response to numerous complaints about tour guides who make up tales about Salem's history, the council has been trying to find a way to require the guides to know Salem's history.

“We have all heard these guides telling things that are not true,” Sosnowski said.

The mayor once heard one guide tell a group of tourists that the M&M candy was invented in Salem, several councilors said.

With the help of local historian Jim McAllister, the city is developing a test that tour guides would be required to take to be certified.

Certified tour guides would have a badge, which may give them a competitive edge over non-certified tour guides, Sosnowski said.

The challenge for the city is the hundreds of tour buses that bring tourists to the city, often with guides who know nothing about Salem history. “There are a hundred, maybe 200 of these bus companies,” Sosnowski said.

The city cannot require that the bus operators hire Salem-certified tour guides, Sosnowski said.

The city can put time limits and other restrictions on the tour companies.

Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy said there have been complaints about late night tours of cemeteries and people with candles trespassing through residents' backyards.

“The local companies are trying to do the right thing,” Sosnowski said.

Electric Cars Charging Stations Approved

The council also approved spending $12,000 to install electric vehicle charging stations in the city garages.

“This is a unique opportunity for Salem to have a place for people who have electric cars to go to charge them up,” McCarthy said.

As a green community, Salem applied and received the charging stations for free. The city has to pay only to have the stations hooked up.

“It is a draw for people to come to Salem,” McCarthy said.

It is unknown how many electric cars are in Salem. Ward 5 Councilor Josh Turiel said “Salem is clearly not awash in electric cars. The stations will encourage people to buy electric cars because they know they can fill up.”

The mayor has said the city may buy electric vehicles in the future for use in inspection services.





roger boulay April 13, 2012 at 11:41 AM
the people have spoken....the councillors are considering changing the plan because they are afraid of losing their seats..good job steves market...
gene April 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Four hour parking in front of short term businesses is a bad idea today and will be a bad idea 90 days from now. Get rid of the meters and while you're at it the incompetant parking director!
Mike Blatty April 13, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Cheers to Steve's Market! This was an idiotic idea from the start. Parkers do not need to be educated about this. But our mayor clearly does.
Jules Lambert Lemelin April 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Hope so! Imagine having to pay a meter to the City to support small business simply wrong! ...People in our family who were born and raised in Salem, now while visiting from NH and CT stop to get Steve's couton they say, "it's not as good as Mom' s" but it's a tradition... Salem is all about tradition and should do everything possible to support small businesses. Without small Business Salem might not be what it is today. Shame on the City for thinking a few metered parking spaces matter in that general area!
Mike Blatty April 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I've said it before and will say it again: This is the sort of thing that happens again and again when you have an executive who is essentially a numbers cruncher. She sees numbers, numbers, numbers and if the numbers look good then people don't really enter into it. This is why, for all her smarts, the mayor has a tin ear. Game over. Steve's and the people: 1, Meters and the Mayor - 0.
SuzannM April 13, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I really hope they will revoke the plan to install any meters outside of Steve's and around the post office BUT I also like our Mayor and I think she does a great job doing a lot of great things in our city. Revoking the plan shows she is considerate listening to the people for the greater good for small businesses in Salem.
J. Burns April 13, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I disagree. The Mayor approved and signed the Ordinance imposing the meters into law on July 18,2011. First response of the Mayor's office to protests was "It's a done deal" (exact words). It was a citizens petition of 3,500, the owners of Steve's and other stores along Gedney St., and Council members led by Michael Sosnowski that has led to the reconsideration of the ill-conceived parking plan. The Mayor has not revoked the plan. The City Council alone can do so and last night took it into the Committee on Ordinances for review.
J. Burns April 13, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Sosnowski is one of our best Councillors, advocating for the people vs the vested interests. He voted against the meters in the first place and showed his usual courage last night when he brought the parking ordinance into his Committee for revision as it was his intention to do from the outset.
john April 13, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I also disagree. She wanted to move forward with the meters. It was the council who stopped it for reconsideration.
Michael McNeil April 13, 2012 at 05:17 PM
The Mayor is a Lame Duck.
Suzie q April 13, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Thank God the citizens of Salem are proactive or the city wouldnt even be recognizeable in a few years. One of the things I love about Salem is I could go back home and visit places where I grew up and played! They were still there!( most of them anyway) the old draw bridge is gone, but for the most part it is still home. I absolutely LOVE the Spirit of its people. Dont let anyone railroad you guys into all this "new" crap that in the long run is only good for the developers and their friends. I was sorry to see St Josephs put int hat catagory. it is an icon and could have been used and an Art school, theatre, something positive for the citizens of Salem instead of a delelopers pocket. Stay stromg Salemites!
john April 13, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Rise up Salem and take back our city. Our schools are a mess but we own a boat! The effort by the mayor to kill this city with meters is outrageous.The council needs to start to challenge the mayor on what her vision is for Salem. Represent the people.
KlassySalem April 13, 2012 at 09:04 PM
The comprehensive parking plan was approved on 6/23/2011, with Sosnowski's vote. Included in that plan was turning Gedney and Margin into paid parking at 75 cents an hour. Only Prevey and Pinto voted no. http://salem.com/Pages/SalemMA_CouncilMin/2011Minutes/S03239036 See #s 426 and 427. Here is what they passed. http://www.salem.com/Pages/informationcouncil061511.pdf Check out the slide entitled "Proposed Relative pricing" and you'll see that as much as Sosnowski will tell you he voted against pay parking outside of Steve's, he voted for it first.
Edward April 13, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I think this would be setting a precedent if the meters are banned on that particular block. If that happens (and I can see the reasoning of the owners of Steve's), then every other business in Salem would not want them either. Perhaps it's time for this entire plan to go back to the drawing board, or better yet, toss it. There is nothing wrong with the current parking situation as it is.
john April 13, 2012 at 09:38 PM
KlassySalem seems to dislike Sosnowski and I have no problem with that but at least he is now second guessing his decisision and I have no problem with that either.
KlassySalem April 14, 2012 at 02:35 AM
My problem with Sosnowski is that he seems to not really study these things the first time, and then runs off half cocked after the fact, which costs us more money. The sidewalk on Bridge Street is being dug up again, because he didn't pay enough attention to the plans, and we're on the hook for replacing the light control box that had been installed. If not for his insistence that it be ripped out, at our expense, the street lights on Bridge could have been turned on 6 months ago. I'll agree that 4 hour parking in the Steve's/post office area doesn't make much sense, why didn't he notice it and raise it as a concern before it passed? I call him Capt. Do-over. Not enough attention to get it right the first time, but plenty after the fact.
Frank Kulik April 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Parking meters are all about what we're forced to put in them. Any other excuse for their existence is secondary and often times, such as this time, goes one step further and defies common sense. A couple of Councilors that voted against the plan said that they actually read it and could see this coming. And by the way, were harshly criticized in the SNEWS for having voted the way they did. Thanks to the Patch for giving the public a forum to air out this issue. The fact that the Mayor's aide bothered to send the Patch a letter tells us all that they're taking this news source seriously.
chester suchecki April 14, 2012 at 01:04 PM
its about time for the city council and the mayor to jump into the harbor for a chillout time out and get their collective rhetoric together.
J. Burns April 14, 2012 at 04:00 PM
My reply to KlassySalem's misrepresentation of Sosnowski's vote on the Parking Ordinance is not being posted. Just letting readers know I have answered her and hoping my post will appear.
J. Burns April 14, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Here is my reply to KlassySalem's misrepresentation of Councillor Siosnowski's vote on the Traffic Ordinance (see below) The final vote on the Ordinance (2nd passage) was on 7-14-2011. Four Councillors voted AGAINST it: Sosnowski, Prevey, Pinto,and O'Keefe. Cpopies of the official vote tally from the City Clerk's office can be made available.
J. Burns April 14, 2012 at 05:59 PM
A copy of the City Clerk's tally of the Final Council vote on July 14, 2011 on the Traffic Ordinance which established the four hour parking meters at Steve's and other stores on Gedney St. may be viewed at Steve's Market. Those who voted against it and the 4 hour meters it mandated are clearly marked: Councillors Sosnowski, Prevey, Pinto, and O'Keefe.
J. Burns April 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Now, with 3,600+ signatures and counting as well as Ward 2 Councillor Sosnowski's help, they are taking it seriously. The Mayor's office's first response to protests against the meters was "It's a done deal!" The petition is still available for signatures at Steve's and the other stores along Gedney st.
michael beaulieu April 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
You are being nice. What I would call the mayor (the queen) would be deleted.
Antoine M. Boisvert April 15, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I am normally a fan of the mayor (unlike many readers here—but I am not interested in discussing that now) but this seems doubly boneheaded: to have thought it was a good idea in the first place; and now to refuse to reconsider in the face of significant pressure. How could meters near Steve's possibly solve the ostensible goal of the overall parking plan, which is to free up on street parking, and encourage long-term parkers into the garages and city lots? In fact, how do four hour meters ANYWHERE serve that goal? The proposal to chop the cost of parking in the city's big lots and garages makes sense and is overdue. Likewise, updating our old coin meters seems like nothing more than getting with the times. As an aside, it is my experience that the really difficult time to find parking in this town is at night, when none of the meters are in effect.
J. Burns April 15, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Not the only "doubly boneheaded idea" to emerge from this administration: not the only ill-conceived project and resistance to rational requests for change...not the only decision to place onerous conditions on citizens without consulting them or in some cases, after consulting them, completely ignoring their wishes.
John Dumas June 26, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Even small taxes are destructive. Who wants to pay 25 cents to save 10 cents on hamburger?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something