Unannounced Parking Meeting Worries Plan Opponent

Linda Germain, left, and Leota Surrette appeared on the Open Mike Show.

Linda Germain, left, and Leota Surrette appeared on the Open Mike Show last March.

A downtown business owner, armed with nearly 250 signatures, is urging Haverhill city councilors to reject fee increases and other paid parking plans.

Linda Germain, 21 Edgehill Road, Haverhill, owner of Germain Art Studio, 142 Essex St., is expected to present a petition tonight, signed by nearly 250 residents and business owners, asking councilors to “reject the parking proposal as written in September, 2015.” She is also expressing concern about the city councilor delegating its authority to a commission that might not operate openly. As an example, she pointed to an unadvertised gathering last Friday at 90 Washington St., where Mayor James J. Fiorentini, Chief of Staff David S. Van Dam, Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and others including “a few business people’ were discussing parking concerns.

“This type of impromptu, not really public, meeting is the exact type of decision making that I am afraid will happen with an appointed commission. This ordinance affects too many people to be decided by a few folks in the back room of a local business,” Germain said. “You the elected officials are accountable to the public. You represent those who chose you.”

The “compromise” parking plan emerged in August at the city council’s Administration and Finance Committee. If approved by the full council, it would add a councilor to the Central Business District Parking Commission, raise rates, make fees and hours uniform across the downtown and add Saturday fees. The proposal would also set limits on the actions the commission may take.

Signers of the petition say their “key concerns” are to “keep Saturdays and Sundays free, stop increased rates and hours and keep the decision making in the hands of the elected city councilors.”

Fiorentini is expected to speak before the council tonight on the proposal, which was postponed last week and two previous times since September.

In other matters on the agenda, councilors also expect to hear from Fiorentini and City Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco on two separate proposed agreements with solar energy provider Bluewave Capital Castle Neck River LLC, Bethesda, Maryland.

A more than $1.5 million Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement would allow Bluewave to construct and operate a 4.2 megawatt solar farm on about 16 acres at the upper Hilldale Avenue industrial park. The other is a 20-year net metering credit agreement to provide electricity, at a flat rate of 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour, to the waster and wastewater divisions from a solar array in the town of Grafton. Both items, as reported by WHAV last week, were also postponed last week at the city’s request when Fiorentini was out of town.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in council chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

4 thoughts on “Unannounced Parking Meeting Worries Plan Opponent

  1. Linda, last week’s meeting by mayor Taxman was anything but impromptu. You have to know that tactic by this tyrannical mayor and his henchmen was secretly planned ahead of time as to not include you or anyone else opposed to his plans. Do you think mayor Taxman cares about the quality of a parking experience someone has downtown? That’s the biggest joke in the city. Long ago the mayor changed the focus of downtown from the city assisting in facilitating parking flow to raising absolutely as much revenue as possible. And you should also know that his plan has already been decided and agreed upon by city councilors. For fun you should sue him for violation of open meetings laws.

    You should be congratulated Linda for your efforts. What you’re experiencing is all part of the well thought out plan mayor Taxman has for squeezing literally every penny he can out of downtown, regardless of the negative affects it has on business and home owners. Unfortunately for you, you’re only recourse in this corrupt city is to move your business. You probably don’t want to do that, but the reality of the situation is that huge numbers of potential customers don’t visit downtown now anyway. A fee increase, and fees being imposed on weekends isn’t going to drive them away. They’ve already left. For those remaining it’s only a matter of time before they’re gone for good too. Linda, the good news is those customers will make the short drive to Plaistow, Salem or even Methuen where so many Haverhill businesses who leave seem to be ending up. The great news awaiting you is that city officials in other communities, unlike Haverhill, actually look at small businesses as a benefit to their community and bend over backwards to do anything they can to attract them, and keep them once they’re there.

  2. When it was pointed out to Mayor that the timing of the meeting – extremely short notice (4PM the day before) and at a time that most constituents would be unable to attend – he got snippy and remarked that their “has been 50-100 public meetings on the the paid parking plan that people could attend”, and then edited his original Facebook post to include similar verbiage.

    Yet, the meeting immediately before a hearing to raise the prices as well as hours covered by paid parking, is held with less than 24 hours notice at 2:15 on a weekday. Strange indeed.

    He also touted the pay by phone feature that will be offered, while making no mention of the increase he will undoubtedly pass one way or another.

  3. “she pointed to an unadvertised gathering last Friday at 90 Washington St.” –

    There’s a better place in the city where the cronies all meet and where the decision of this city are truly made.

    While I’m not going to blow the spot up – yet, if Andy V. wants to reach out to me and take a stroll sometime at this location, I’ll be more than happy to divulge the unspoken, but semi-known meeting spot of Haverhill’s cronies. Remember Haverhill cronies, you have enemies, you have done them and their families harm, it should be no surprise when residents or business people drop a dime on your own affairs. I’m more than happy to keep them anonymous and be their conduit to expose you for the corrupt cronies some of you truly are.

    • The “spot” is well known and the owner a great person. Let’s be sure not to hurt this business and put blame on those “customers” who deserve it. There is more than one spot too ! These folks have been doing this for decades. Planned meetings off the books discussing city business without the public knowing.