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LETTER: A Message from the Mayor's Office on the Parking Plan

Parking will be discussed Thursday evening at the City Council meeting.

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by the Mayor's Office:

"The City of Salem is in the midst of implementing several changes to downtown parking as part of a comprehensive plan that was developed, reviewed and recommended by both the City Council/Mayor and a collective group of downtown stakeholders, including residents, business owners, tourist attractions, patrons, downtown employees, etc. The recommendations started with a foundation of data about how many parking spaces exist in downtown Salem; how well spaces are utilized throughout the day; an inventory of the myriad of parking rules, regulations and costs that exist with respect to our parking structure and a survey/questionnaire regarding parking needs and wants. I should also note there were more than 2 dozen public meetings and presentations about the new parking regulations, not to mention some very well attended Council meetings on the subject.

The data showed that we have excess parking capacity, but it is largely in garages and/or on the outskirts of the central business district, making it less desirable to the many people who shop, work, eat or visit downtown. The downtown stakeholder group working on improving parking set a goal to try and achieve 15% availability for on-street parking downtown or essentially one space per block. There are several strategies that are being implemented to try and achieve that goal, including the addition of meters in on-street locations that previously did not have meters. The plan is comprehensive and will also substantially decrease the cost of parking in city garages, add long term parking to Riley Plaza, and increase meter fees in peak locations to encourage long term parkers to use garages and other lower cost parking options, to name a few of the approved changes.

As the work on new meters has begun, I have heard from some business owners who are concerned about the plan and have requested that action be taken to limit new meters. The City understands the concerns expressed and plans to work to address all of them in a number of ways. 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.

The overall goal is to improve parking availability in downtown. To accomplish this, the parking system will use relative pricing to help balance the utilization. For example, the garages and lots will be priced less than the adjacent on-street spaces, and the underutilized waterfront garage will be priced less than everything else.

Throughout our process, we solicited input from many residents, organizations and other stakeholders. This doesn’t mean every issue was addressed or every suggestion was adopted. We are still seeking input and we very much value it. Please feel free to share opinions or comments at parking@salem.com."

Jason Silva

Chief Administrative Aide

john April 12, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Is installing meters(at what cost) for 90 days to see if they work financialy practical? This well timed letter is nothing more than an effort to satisfy those of us that have spoken on behalf of Steve's. It is very narrow minded.
KlassySalem April 12, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Those meters are here to stay, and were approved by city council, including Sosnowski. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you see the timing on the meters adjusted, to set a 15 or 30 minute limit.
john April 12, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I guess we will need more meter maids. One can just walk between the PO and Steve's all day long. If this continues we will have to sub out the meter maid work to a private company because we all know we can't pay city employee benifits and hand out raises to department heads. I think the city will turn the meter polls at Steve,s in to bike racks just to save face. Well done!!
chester suchecki April 12, 2012 at 08:12 PM
if steves and every buisiness around the store including the post office have to have meters the put meters on every surrounding street to ssu. there is a decades old free ride ans a money maker for the city of greed
Aubry Bracco (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 08:44 PM
No Chester, it's the moderation system.
DAVID LIDDLE April 12, 2012 at 08:51 PM
I'm wondering why residential streets, like Crombie Street, are being targeted. There are plenty of parking spaces in the two lots. This is only hurting the residents...the people who actually voted you into office, not the day tourists.
George Arauz April 12, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Nobody even spoke with us at 24 Norman street. We are a building of about 40 units who have no off street parking. Now our only spots to park are about to be metered. The office did an estimate?? I don't think so. If the Mayor's office did the job the right way they would have spoken with downtown residents door to door rather than use their fingers to guesstimate needed spots. Apparently money from tourism is more important than residents who lived here for many years.
J. Burns April 12, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Correcting KlassySalem: Reading from the City Clerk's official tabulation of the council votes on rhe Traffic Ordinance re parking penalties, prohibitions, parking meters and tow regulations dated 7/14/2011: The Nays were Councillors Sosnowski, Prevey, Pinto, and O'Keefe. Mayor Driscoll approved and signed the Ordinance on July 18, 2011.
J. Burns April 12, 2012 at 10:26 PM
This evening the Council is meeting and will have before them the petition with 3,200+ signatures of citizens requesting that the Council review and revise the Parking Ordinance. It is anticipated that Councillor Sosnoski (who voted against the Ordinance in the first place -see above) will have Council approval to take the Ordinance into the Committee on Ordinances, Licenses & Legal Affairs. which he chairs. for review.
J. Burns April 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
In addition to the petition with 3,200 + (and counting) signatures of the Gedney and Margin Streets businesses (Steve's market and others) presented to the Council tonight, other petitions protesting the meters will be circulated next week. Further information about central sites for signing these will be posted here.
J. Burns April 12, 2012 at 10:36 PM
George, what Ward are you in and who is your Councillor?
john April 12, 2012 at 10:42 PM
I have commented on the condo issue many times. The city allowed condos to be sold with no parking. Total failure by the administration past and present
michael beaulieu April 12, 2012 at 10:49 PM
One more good reason to go to Peabody or Danvres to shop. Free parking at malls.
Frank Kulik April 13, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Parking meters are "piggy banks" on a post. Any other reason for them being there is secondary.
J. Burns April 13, 2012 at 01:16 AM
The City Council just adjourned. Councillor Sosnowski (Ward 2) with the help of Councillor Siegal (Ward 3) brought the Parking Meter Ordinance into his Committee on Ordinances. Councillor O'Keefe (Ward 7) spoke against taking it into Committee for review and revision even though he originally voted against the parking meter ordinance in 2011. Will post the other Councillors positions on it later as well as their Ward and contact information. Anyway, it passed and went into Committee for review. Next step may be a Public Hearing-will keep you all posted well in advance..
Maggi Smith-Dalton April 13, 2012 at 01:46 AM
My only concern would be...will the meters force/encourage/tempt visitors to further invade residents' parking? Huge problem looms...residents already put up with a lot from tourist invasions...PS, Does not affect me personally but I am thinking of others here.
laura April 13, 2012 at 12:37 PM
My family has shopped at Steves for years ans years. My mother shopped there when she was young. I go there multiple times a week. If they put meters in there i cannot continue giving my busniness. Meters went in all around my house. I have a two and three year old but I will now have to park at the common and walk down to Derby wharf where we live. The coffee shop in the salem mall used to have the 15 min parking out front, now meters. I can no longer give business there. Why can't I give business to these places if it is just a quarter? Because I cannot walk my kids home from the common and so i have to pay to park all day at my house. I cannot afford to pay everytime i want to go food shopping if I can go to Market Basket. I will always drive thru dunkin donuts now. Salem is making the businesses suffer. See they want everyone to pay the $500 a year to have a parking pass in the garage. I cannot do this either. I cannot walk my kids that far. This is terrible. I have lived in this house since I was 4. I am 26. I will be looking to leave Salem soon. I am sad about this.
Mike Blatty April 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Beautiful letter! Pure poetry! Thank you, Mr. Silva!
john April 28, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Today I read in the Salem News the mayor wants to tweak the meters AFTER they have been installed.What kind of backward thinking is this? This is an expensive project for the taxpayers. Would a reasonable person do a project in this fasion? Build something to see how it works and then take it apart and rebuild? Outrageous.
Tai Pryjma July 14, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I live in downtown Salem and came home from work to find the meter prices have been increased and the meters hours have been made longer. This is completely unacceptable. I've lived in Salem for many years, watched taxes go up, and for what? Salem is becoming a place that will be too expensive to live and people will leave. The leadership in Salem, like so many other places, never thinks about the people their decisions are effecting. I am both angered and disappointed by the meter increases and think the people of Salem should take a stand. And by the way, Salem seems to have money for a lot of other things, just not for the people. I just saw four of those ridiculous police cars drive by - in case there's a scene from the movie Heat outside?
Tai Pryjma July 14, 2012 at 01:23 PM
BTW = the parking garage also went up $200 and we can't get a resident parking sticker because we live on Washington Street.
Frank Kulik July 14, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Tai, its all about the money. Paid parking in Salem is a huge revenue source. Those "piggy banks on posts" are the gifts that keep on giving (and taking). There's absolutely nothing a parking meter can do that a sign and enforcement monitoring cannot also do. This new parking plan is nothing more than another deceptively clothed, expensive inconvience. And by the way, there were a couple of Councilors that read it, voted against it, and were later pilloried in the local press.

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