Downtown Parking Fee Hike, Food Trucks Face Scrutiny Wednesday

An existing downtown parking meter. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini during a recent Open Mike Show.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini during a recent Open Mike Show.

A Haverhill city council subcommittee is scheduled to review city proposals to increase paid parking fees in the downtown and allow food truck vendors to operate on a plaza in front of the Merrimack Street parking garage, among others.

The council’s Administration and Finance committee meet at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26, in the city council office, room 204, at Haverhill City Hall, according to Councilor Colin F. LePage, committee chairman. Its last formal meeting was held on April 22.

On the agenda, a plan first proposed last March to increase paid parking rates at downtown municipal lots and to double on-street paid parking rates to $1 per hour. In May, the full council sent to committee two identical ordinance proposals from the mayor which divide the Central Business District into east and west sections. That move came after the Ethics Commission ruled three councilors who own businesses on Merrimack Street could not vote on fee hikes within the district as a whole. Last month, Mayor James J. Fiorentini made an appeal online for parking rate increases to, among other things, support cleanup efforts in the downtown such as installing public recycle bins.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

City Councilor Colin F. LePage, chairman of Administration and Finance Committee.

Also, the committee will revisit a proposed amendment to the city’s “peddling and soliciting” ordinance to allow food trucks at the existing brick-paved plaza on the Merrimack Street side of the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. The plan was sent back to Administration and Finance by the council in May when David Van Dam, chief of staff to Fiorentini, revealed a grant would be used for the food truck designation and other plaza improvements. Earlier this month, WHAV reported Fiorentini released plans to include a seating area with plastic furniture, benches and flower boxes using a $6,000 state grant. An artist’s rendering of the project, however, does not refer to food trucks on that site.

14 thoughts on “Downtown Parking Fee Hike, Food Trucks Face Scrutiny Wednesday

  1. It’s about time we join the twenty-first century and allow food trucks. If real, sit down restaurants can’t compete with the trucks, well then they weren’t very goos businesses were they? More choice is never bad.

    Parking increase is Bologna, though.

    • I’m not really sure how “food trucks” bring us in to the 21st century – they mostly cater to warehouse workers etc – if you can’t jump in the car and grab a sub somewhere – well, you’re pretty lazy.

  2. First bullet of death to small restaurants downtown is an increase in paking fees as they compete with other areas in the city with free parking.
    Second bullet is mobile food competition.

    Is Haverhill serious? Really?

    • I agree completely Rich…
      What amazes me is that NONE of the business owners seem to mind that government is driving their customers away.
      When is the last time you saw just one of them make a public statement against the parking taxes or meals taxes?

      • I’ll tell you why Jack. As a downtown restaurant owner, we are implicitly threatened and cajoled by this administration. Not complaining is like “protection money” against trumped up code enforcement raids, targeted and mass ticketing of our customers, fire alarm drills during peak dining hours, etc. City councilors tell me privately they are also afraid to stand up to the mayor because he’ll take away their secretary more than he does already. One candidate even said he won’t have his campaign function downtown because of the parking abuses. The chamber was on our side until they got $25,000 in state money and told to shut up. The attorney general’s office asks us to be patient.

        • Thank you for verifying what many already assume and understand. I actually feel for business owners like you – its simply immoral you have to put up with this.

          I’ve also seen this retaliatory practice with the people who run for Mayor – especially the gentleman from Kimball farms.

          THIS is why good people won’t run in our city. Although I give little credit to the councilors as they should stand up and resign if this is the practice and make it public.

          Thanks again for your truthful and keen insight.

        • Move your restaurant out of Haverhill. Even better, move it over the border in NH and gain a customer. I will not frequent any dining/drinking establishment in Haverhill, it’s unfortunate the rest of the The Citizenry doesn’t care, or is simply too apathetic to revolt in the best way they can, with their wallets.

          Of course it doesn’t help to live in such a lawless state when Haverhill’s own Rep. Brian Dempsey is Chair of Ways & Means, and ostensibly commits legal larceny upon other communities to support Haverhill’s insolvency (deficit financing bonds are economically destructive, but Mayor Jim will never concede that fact). Their only play left, which they have performed perfectly in textbook style, is to TAKE whatever isn’t nailed down. Of course, being the typical political coward that he is, like so many others, he now blocks his social media (FB) page. Anything against the status quo in this state must be silenced.

          The People have choices, it’s too bad they do not take advantage of them.

        • Sitting back and doing nothing won’t help you. Most likely you and I know each other. I use to eat at downtown restaurants 2-3 times a week. But not any more. Not since the meals tax and parking tax was implemented. You and other business owners are impacted by my decision about your collective effort to do nothing.

          Go public…name names!! Set up a Facebook page to educate people what the corrupt mayor is doing…..

          Go on the Mayor’s facebook page and call him out!!! If he’d targeted you you have no choice but to fight back!!

          Move your business to NH!! And let everyone know why you’re doing it!!! The one thing that is never reported in any consultant study done about parking is the number of people like me who no longer go downtown. With a rate increase that number is going up. Ticketing quotas set up by the mayor is driving people away too.

          Sorry to say…but you need to make a decision about your business and soon before it is too late. I’m sorry to say, but it appears the corrupt mayor and city councilors are already making those decisions for you.

  3. The city of Haverhill – as guided by this Mayor has a continuous hammering of its citizens with increased water fees, sewer fees, parking fees, etc and is becoming beyond affordable and bottom-line ridiculous.

    The city council (ALL MEMBERS) is also guilty of total incompetence in guiding our city and understanding the basic financial hardship(s) of its citizens.

    This is part and parcel of the fact that the city is basically broke and operating on borrowed time – and only due to the fact that the Ways and Means committee on Beacon Hill is Chaired by a Haverhill hack that keeps us afloat.

    This city belong in receivership – period. The Mayor and city council should be relieved of their duty and we should have an independent auditor come in and review all financial books of each department immediately – something is seriously – if not corruptly wrong.

    • Yes, well said. NOTHING has been audited. Where is the parking fee money going ? Haverhill residents were sold on this program being fully viable at the present rates. WHO LIED ? The council with exception of a couple, is clueless as to what is going on and refuses to hold the Mayor accountable. The Mayor openly lied and purposely altered, misrepresented, and mislead the residents of the city. He should have been censored . They also should have filed a complaint with the Legal Bar as he is a lawyer.

      You think water rates are high now ??? Wait until the EPA gets done with Haverhill.. Just like EVERYTHING ELSE here, The Mayor has procrastinated purposely , knowing this was coming years ago…he did nothing. Add this to the list: Fire stations, fire equipment, police station, cops, Hunking school, Landfill, City Hall, and now the waste treatment plant.

      When people find out what has been going on, his legacy, similar to Deval’s and Obama’s will be one of disgust.

  4. Interesting that parking fees are increasing. Seems that the more money collected under the guise of parking fees, the more money is diverted for other purposes…… SO, my decision not to frequent any business where I have to pay for parking in Haverhill makes perfect sense to me.

  5. “A private operator contract, successfully negotiated by NelsonNygaard, now guarantees $100k of surplus City revenue each year for improvements on priced streets.” –

    As the lawlessness and no accountability continues in this country, state, and city, it should be no surprise that no one is divulging what happened to the would-be $100K profits parking was supposedly “guaranteed” of delivering.

    • That was all marketing crap. They said what they needed to to get the meters in. Now that they are in they can play with the rates all they want. How could they be off by 100% of the price for parking? They weren’t, they threw in a low ball figure to make it agreeable. They probably planned to increase the rates all along.