Downtown Businesses Launch Petition to Stop Parking Plan

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

Linda Germain during a recent WHAV Open Mike Show, discussing a photography project, “Inside Out Haverhill: Spirit and Souls.” She is also a force behind placing “Creative Crosswalks” downtown.

Linda Germain during a recent WHAV Open Mike Show, discussing a photography project, “Inside Out Haverhill: Spirit and Souls.” She is also a force behind placing “Creative Crosswalks” downtown.

A downtown business owner has launched an online petition, asking the Haverhill City Council to scuttle changes to the downtown paid parking plan.

Linda Germain, owner of Germain Art Studio, 142 Essex St., Haverhill, placed the petition Tuesday at, asking city councilors to “reject the parking proposal as written.” Germain told WHAV her primary goals are to raise awareness and encourage residents and business owners to take charge of their destinies.

“My goal is to build awareness and empower the people to speak for what they want. People are angry, but their burned out and don’t want to do anything about it. It would be wonderful to unify this central business district. I’m not trying to be negative, just proactive,” she said.

As of Wednesday morning, 60 people signed paper petitions and the online form had 29 supporters—many of whom left messages on the site.

“I own a business downtown and the decision will affect my business negatively,” wrote Alicia Zefta of Maria’s Family Restaurant, 81 Essex St. Shawna Kelley, owner of the Paint and Wine Lounge, 57 Wingate St., added, “As a business owner, we need customers to feel comfortable parking and walking around town a bit. This is not going to help struggling businesses.”

Specifically, petitioners seek to keep free parking on Saturdays and Sundays, stop increased rates and hours and “keep the decision making in the hands of the elected city councilors—not an appointed commission who is not accountable to us, the people who pay the fees and permits and fines.”

In August, a Haverhill City Council subcommittee recommended a “compromise” parking plan—featuring a combination of fee increases, the addition of Saturday fees, lower minimum fees and standard hours. Fiorentini did not originally request Saturday parking fees, but rather that plan was suggested by councilors during the August meeting. Last night, councilors delayed action on the plan for at least 30 days after Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he needed more time to answer questions raised by Councilor Colin F. LePage.

LePage: Fee Increase May Not Be Necessary

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

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

In an email to Fiorentini, LePage suggested rate increases and other changes may no longer be needed since the city has changed to a lower cost parking vendor. Previously, he explained, the city needed to meet a $400,000 annual revenue threshold to have money available for downtown projects. The new vendor, LAZ, is charging only a $125,000 annual flat fee. LePage also raised a concern about a decrease in the purchase of parking permits.

“There appears to have been a drastic decline in the amount of hangtag sales since FY2013. Do we know why? Do we know the percentage of residents compared to workers in the districts that have been purchasers of the hangtags over that three-year time frame?” LePage asked.

As for the delay in approving a revised parking plan, Germain said, “This extra 30 days really isn’t a bad thing. Whatever comes to fruition will reflect what the people want rather than what a committee wants.”

To sign the online petition, visit Paper petitions will also be available at downtown businesses, she said. Those who wish to contact city councilors by email may email [email protected].

4 thoughts on “Downtown Businesses Launch Petition to Stop Parking Plan

  1. I have a great idea…. Why doesn’t the city focus on bringing the dilapidated, dormant buildings downtown up to current code so they can be rented? This would generate money for the city in building permit fees and business taxes. Downtown buildings would be more aesthetically pleasing and we would see fewer empty rundown buildings. Its currently cheaper for landlords to leave properties vacant than bring them up to code.

  2. Colin LePage: You’re either completely naive or in on the scam mayor Taxman has to wring every last penny out of those who live, work and visit downtown. You talk about the target figure of $400K for parking revenues as if that is an acceptable figure that everyone is suppose to feel grateful for. Taxman views downtown as an endless revenue source with literally no limits. He used taxpayer funds to buy a vehicle and hire employees with the sole purpose of driving around downtown and ticket parking violators. This obviously leads to a system where there are ticket writing quotas to be met to pay for that investment. Anyone following this knows the amount of tickets written and fines collected through this planned intrusive tax policy mayor Failurentini has imposed is raising significant amounts of revenue for the city. Why aren’t you asking about that Colin? How much money has been collected in parking fines????!!!! And Colin, the acceptable figure to pay to park downtown is ZERO. Because that is how much it cost customers to take their business someplace else where they don’t get charged to park. Why is it so difficult for all you councilors to understand?

    Downtown business owners should be outraged by this sleazy ticket writing revenue generating policy. For every customer who gets a ticket as a result of doing business with a downtown business a high percentage of them will never visit downtown again. NEVER!! And why should they? The city council has refused to fight this tax and spend liberal mayor on the parking issue from the beginning and now its is driving people away from downtown entirely. And business owners….mayor Taxman doesn’t care about your business. He’ll prove that by seeking revenge against you and your business when you dare speak out against him on this….so be prepared.

    Colin, didn’t you learn anything about mayor Taxman when he took your otherwise positive trash recycling program and added a revenue generating component to it by hiring employees to ticket homeowners who didn’t adhere to his moronically insane policies? His tyrannical outlook of the role of government is ruining the quality of life in this city. How many calls have you and other city councilors received Colin from elderly senior citizens in the city who have been fined because Taxman needs the revenue to run his failed administration? If you think this is all acceptable Colin, then you’re crazier than he is.

    • Hello Jack,
      Please allow me to answer a few of your statements concerning me. I did not vote in favor of the implementation of a paid parking plan. The article tries to explain that the previous 3 year contract was structured as a revenue share with the City, not that I was endorsing that plan. One of my questions is simply this, if the paid parking plan has generated an average of $315,000 a year, the past contract required that it generate $400,000 and now the new contract only costs $125,000 – why do we need to raise the rates and extend the hours? In your last sentence, “if you think this is all acceptable” – if I did, why would I be asking the questions?
      Regards, Colin

  3. Parking in downtown Haverhill needs to be free UNTIL Haverhill sees an increase in businesses and that takes many, many years. Its NOT a destination city and never will be if you charge people 2 times before they even take a bite at a downtown restaurant. Parking fees and added food taxes are sucking the life out of businesses. The city should be a partner for downtown businesses not a profiteer.