Haverhill Councilors Approve Plan to Swap Downtown Parking Spaces in Advance of Building

The Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill city councilors last night signed off on a plan to swap parking spaces—soon to be lost during construction of a new downtown parking garage—with others scattered throughout the central business district.

Original plans called for the Herbert H. Goecke Jr. Memorial Parking Deck to be demolished in phases to accommodate a planned $160 million mixed housing and retail complex. With that plan ruled out due to structural concerns, the city was charged with finding hundreds of replacement spaces. One area to be made available, a vacant lot at 56-70 Merrimack St., will offer 30 temporary spaces.

“I hate calling it the ‘hole in the ground,’ but that’s what some people refer to it as, between the Landmark building and the Harbor Place buildings,” City Solicitor William D. Cox Jr. said. “But that lot continues to be owned by them and we have agreed that we will go in, we will create 43 parking spaces for their exclusive use. It’s their property, all we’re doing is going in—we’re paving the lot, we’re striping it and we’re providing them additional spaces to replace the ones that they’re losing in the parking deck.”

In addition, the new agreement requires the city to expand Haverhill Place parking just north of the garage from 30 to about 82 spaces, create 12 spaces next to the existing Pentucket Bank branch at White’s Corner, and—after the August demolition of the garage—establish 130 temporary spaces on the same lot. Cox said that, though the city will execute the plan, the Lupolis’ company will finance the project.

In response to a question from soon-to-be Mayor Melinda E. Barrett on merchants purchasing parking passes, Cox said for the time being there will be no charge for parking. If people start leaving their cars there for days, he said Economic Development and Planning Director William Pillsbury Jr., Director of Haverhill Community Services will deal with it.

“Bill did a great job both with the Harbor Place building and with the Haverhill Heights Building in terms of being the crisis manager on Merrimack Street and addressing all of those issues and concerns almost on a daily basis as they would come up,” Cox said. “We’ve talked about it and he completely anticipates doing that again with regards to this project.”

In response to Barrett’s concerns that small business owners remain in the loop, Cox responded that Pillsbury plans to hold a community meeting, as well as meet with individual owners. Cox added the city may work with the Minco Corporation and owners of Central Plaza to create more public parking. In addition, Pentucket Medical Associates may offer a shuttle service if necessary.

The final vote came in as seven yeas, with Councilor Michael S. McGonagle abstaining and Councilor Joseph J. Bevilacqua recusing himself from the vote.

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