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May 06. 2014 10:43PM

$100 permit for resident parking delays vote on Manchester parking fees


Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas appears Tuesday at his first Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting since his April 8 heart bypass surgery. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to send a plan to increase parking fees and enforcement back to committee over concerns about a $100 residential permit for people who live downtown.

The vote at Tuesday’s meeting is the latest twist for the three proposed parking ordinances, which were first reviewed in February and have since made their way through several committees to the full board and back again.

The ordinances would expand parking meter enforcement from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday, across the entire downtown area, from the Millyard to Union Street, and from Harrison Street in the north to Granite Street. Meters would also be enforced on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Elm Street from Bridge Street to Auburn Street. The charge for all meters would be 75 cents an hour. And the cost of monthly permits at most lots and garages would increase by $10.

The proposed residential permit proved to be the main sticking point on Tuesday.

Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long, who represents downtown, said he had changed his perspective on the permit after hearing concerns from people pushing to attract more residents to downtown.

“We want to get 14,000 people downtown. We’re not there yet,” he said. “Any perception with an issue getting residents to live downtown — and this would be one, a $100 fee — would be a disincentive.”

Alderman-at-large Dan O’Neil added that he had heard from residents who felt the permit cost would be onerous for those with limited incomes.

“It was unjust to the less fortunate people,” he said. “This needs some work.”

But City Solicitor Tom Clark told the aldermen that the resident permit language in the ordinances could not be revised without sending them back to the traffic committee. As a workaround, City Clerk Matt Normand proposed passing the ordinances with the directive that the parking office not impose the resident permit fee. This, however, was rejected by a majority of the aldermen. Instead they voted to send all the ordinances back to committee.

Mayor Ted Gatsas indicated he was disappointed in the vote.

“So we won’t have any parking fees available for the budget,” he said.

The parking changes could generate an additional $500,000 in revenue for the city; eliminating the resident permit would reduce the revenue by about $50,000.

Clark noted that the aldermen could vote to expedite returning the ordinances, which normally must be vetted by three committees, to the full board.

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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