City Councilors Hesitant to Criticize Mayor’s Free Parking Gift

Signs credit Mayor James J. Fiorentini for providing temporary free parking downtown.

Haverhill City Councilor William H. Ryan.

Haverhill City Councilor William H. Ryan.

Two Haverhill city councilors calling a pre-holiday move allowing “free parking” in downtown Haverhill Wednesday and Thursday “a wonderful gesture,” while at least one other expressed concern over the mayor’s “gift.”

The temporary reprieve from downtown paid parking, announced Tuesday by Mayor James J. Fiorentini, is being welcomed by Haverhill City Councilor William H. Ryan. He told WHAV it would draw more last-minute shoppers and others to the area.

“We need to do everything possible to encourage people to come into the downtown area and discover some of the great businesses and events we have in that area,” Ryan said. “Maybe try some of the great restaurants or possibly go into one of the shops down there. There’s just so many opportunities.”

The mayor announced two days of free parking in his email newsletter this week.

“There will be free parking in the downtown city lots and on the downtown street Dec. 23 and 24. This does not affect the parking garage on Granite Street which is run by the MVRTA. Please take advantage of this two days of free parking to check out our many downtown merchants.”

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien.

City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien.

Another supporter, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, sounded a similar case and believed the city should consider expanding that next year.

“If this goes well this year maybe next year we can do the week and look at extending Saturday and Sunday free right through that Christmas week,” Daly O’Brien said. “Just to give the merchants downtown that little extra.”

While the temporary “free parking” would mean some lost revenue for the city, Ryan believed having paid parking is more a matter of managing the downtown area

“It’s been a real dilemma for the parking commission. If a person is working in a restaurant and they park out front for eight hours a day, there’s no place for customers to park or people who live in the area and park there all day long for maybe or not 24 hours a day. It’s going to be an ongoing problem as the city grows and more and more people are using commuter rail,” Ryan said.

Privately, though, at least one city councilor questioned the mayor’s authority to unilaterally waive parking fees. The official said council-passed ordinances carry the rule of law and can’t be arbitrarily waived. Besides, the councilor asked, “What happened to the parking fee shortfall problem?” Other councilors refused comment.

Recently, the city council fell short of a six-vote majority required to pass a “compromise” paid parking city ordinance that would, among other things, give the Central Business District Parking Commission authority to raise parking rates, make fees and hours uniform. It also would have added a city council representative to the parking commission and allow the commission to add Saturday fees

4 thoughts on “City Councilors Hesitant to Criticize Mayor’s Free Parking Gift

  1. Compliments of the mayor??? Really, is he paying the parking company for the lost revenue? Is he paying the city back on the lost revenue? If he is paying out of his own pocket then it is courtesy of the mayor but if he isn’t than its compliments of the taxpayers of Haverhill.
    Maybe WHAV should do a little “investigative reporting”

  2. This move by mayor Taxman is a confirmation that he’s sticking it to people who have businesses downtown when it comes to the parking TAX.

    Why the people who own businesses downtown put up with this tax and spend fraud mayor is beyond me.

    Stacey Bruzzese of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and Dawn Shepherd of the Merrimack Valley Chamber…..WHERE ARE YOU???? You both should be screaming DAILY about the intrusive tax policies this failing mayor has imposed on businesses in downtown Haverhill…..but not a peep from either one of your organizations!!! It’s disgusting that both groups just sit on the sidelines and do nothing. It’s understandable to a point that business owners say nothing, because it’s well known mayor taxman then targets them by seeking revenge.

    For the mayor to put up a sign promoting this stating “compliments of the mayor” is clinically sick.

  3. Hmmmmm….so the mayor fights openly about needing to raise the parking fees, then he gives away two days free costing the city that revenue. It makes no sense but then again, what does around here !