NASHUA — Aldermen this week opted not to vote on a proposal that would double the cost of leasing spaces at the downtown parking garages.
Several city officials agreed that the issue needs to be studied further so that aldermen can decide the best course of action.
Prepaid monthly permits are currently issued for anyone interested in leasing a parking space at the Elm Street or High Street municipal garages. The cost is now $30 a month for a rooftop parking space and $45 a month for the rest of the garage, which allows usage from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Under a proposal being reviewed by aldermen, it is being recommended that the monthly cost increase to $60 per month for all garage parking spaces at the start of 2020, and increase again to $75 at the start of 2021.
“I’d like to get more information, myself, about what the impact would be on businesses downtown that currently lease or that are looking to lease,” said Alderman Ben Clemons.
It is important to understand if the proposed fee increases would be a deterrent to businesses looking to move into the downtown area, added Clemons.
Although aldermen were scheduled to vote on the proposal on Tuesday, the board instead decided to send the agenda item back to an aldermanic committee for further review and analysis.
“This only affects the monthly lease fees,” Alderman Brandon Laws said of the proposal, explaining it will not increase the hourly parking rates in the garages.
One of the reasons for studying the parking issue was to address the disparity between covered and uncovered parking, he said, questioning why the new proposal has the same pricing for leases with covered parking spaces and leases for rooftop parking that is uncovered.
“It definitely looks like we are behind the times a little bit with our rates,” Jill Stansfield, Nashua’s parking manager, recently told an aldermanic committee.
There are currently 380 parking spaces reserved for leases at the Elm Street garage, and 277 parking spaces reserved for leases at the High Street garage, according to Stansfield. She said that represents more than half of the parking spaces in the two garages.
“The garages are both at or above capacity. They have been now for a couple of years,” said Stansfield. “ … We have oversold that number.”
After looking at fees used by other municipalities, she said the parking rates in Nashua should be increased to market rate.
Before the fees are adjusted, Alderman Tom Lopez said city officials should consider implementing a special fund to collect parking revenue that can be used specifically to support the general maintenance and upgrades to the municipal parking garages.