A downtown Haverhill parking meter
If you want to park free in downtown Haverhill, find a meter that’s in the shade.
That was the message delivered, albeit unintentionally, as city councilors discussed malfunctioning parking meters at their Tuesday night meeting.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly-O’Brien updated her colleagues on the efforts of parking management firm LAZ Parking to replace dead batteries in a number of malfunctioning parking kiosks.
The city uses 41 kiosks scattered throughout the downtown to collect parking fees. The meters, which are more than four years old, are equipped with two batteries that have a lifespan of about five years, the councilor explained.
One of the two batteries in each meter is powered by solar energy. As a result, meters that sit in the shade have failed to work properly. Daly-O’Brien said LAZ has identified eight such meters, located on Essex, Washington and Wingate streets.
The company is replacing meter batteries in increments, Daly-O’Brien said.
“So far, we’ve replaced six batteries. And the reason they’ve only replaced six batteries is because they want to make sure the battery they are using to replace is actually going to function. They don’t want to buy 41 batteries, times two, and not have the batteries function,” she said.
Daly-O’Brien estimated the full battery replacement project will take a month or two to complete.
But City Councilor William J. Macek asked what drivers should do when they encounter a meter that isn’t working. Daly-O’Brien gave an answer that could as well have come from any driver.
“Actually, I’ve been the victim of that myself. And, I just kind of hold my breath and say a prayer and, I figure, well, if I do get a ticket, I’m going to appeal it.”
Daly-O’Brien said the locations of the inoperable meters is well known, “especially the one in front of Wang’s. I don’t think they even give a ticket anymore.”
She said the meter in front of Wang’s Table restaurant is among those located in the shade.
Macek pointed out the unintended consequence of the discussion was to tell people where they could park free for an extended period.
“It’s not even fair to the people who do go to the working equipment because the other half doesn’t have to pay,” he said.
Councilors agreed unanimously with a request by Macek asking Mayor James J. Fiorentini to coordinate a meeting with Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and LAZ Parking to speed the process.