February 19, 2008

With the recent article in the Newburyport Daily News about the Mayor’s plan to investigate the possibility of building a parking garage at Prince Place, there has been a lot of discussion on the topic.

I have a few thoughts on the subject. First of all, rushing to build a garage simply because the money the state has set aside for it is set to expire is foolhardy.  We shouldn’t build something we don’t necessarily need simply because there is money available for it. That brings me to my second thought, do we really need a parking garage? My immediate thought is no, while extra parking would be nice, it is not a necessity. The only times the lots are really full are during Christmas and Yankee Homecoming, and we’ve been able to make do. (funny how we live in a community full of green-eco friendly people, and yet they all feel the need to drive downtown in their own cars). Parking can be tricky to find, but not impossible. For those that claim we’ll need the parking to help support Waterside West, that is backwards thinking. Karp wants us to build a garage for him, it will allow him to build essentially whatever he wants on the waterfront because we’ll be able to supplement the required parking he’ll have to include. If we don’t have a parking garage, he will be limited in the scope in which he can build, since the only parking he’ll be able to rely on is the parking he includes on his property. This is a very important control that the city should not give up by doing him the favor of building him a garage. The municipal lots are already in use, so he would not be able to rely on parking in those areas. He needs a garage, and we shouldn’t build it for him.

There is also the fact that any parking garage will no doubt mean an associated parking fee. While I don’t mind charging tourists to park downtown, I am absolutely opposed to asking residents to pay to park in their own town. Perhaps some sort of parking permit can be worked out, allowing locals to park in their own city for free, but I doubt it. Now there is also rumors that all municipal lots will start charging to park. This can not be acceptable to any citizen of Newburyport. Imagine having to pay to park downtown to run to the bank and insurance company, or the library. Daily errands will now cost the citizenry a fee? What incentive would someone have to go downtown if they can park at a shopping center for free? What do you pay taxes for if you are going to pay a fee just to park downtown?

Newburyport has long had this problem where they have worked to support the tourists in this town, and by extension, the Chamber of Commerce. Whatever is good for the tourists is good for business which is ultimately good for the Chamber. And because of this the citizen is constantly overlooked. Our city government is charged with putting the citizens first, above all other interests, and creating a parking garage does nothing to benefit the average citizen of Newburyport. Charging to park in the parking lots does nothing to benefit the average citizen. It would however, greatly benefit the Chamber, as we slowly sell out the locals in favor of more tourists.

Anyway, before I get way off track, lets get back to the parking situation. I have no problem with the Mayor investigating the possibility of building the garage on Prince Place, but this is something that should not be rushed simply because the money is burning a whole in our pocket.



  1. While I don’t mind charging tourists to park downtown, I am absolutely opposed to asking residents to pay to park in their own town.

    I completely disagree. When I learned to drive, I was told that driving was a privelege, not a right. By the same token, parking is a privelege, not a right. And if the owner of said parking wants to charge said driver to park, how is that an infringement on one’s rights?

    What about paying admission to park at Maudslay? You’re a Mass. resident, so shouldn’t parking priveleges at a state park be covered under your state taxes? Or, what about paying an admission fee to enter the Parker River refuge because you pay federal taxes? Where does it end?

    What incentive would someone have to go downtown if they can park at a shopping center for free? What do you pay taxes for if you are going to pay a fee just to park downtown?

    If someone would rather park at Port Plaza and take the MVRTA around town, I have no problem with that eco-friendly logic. As for any shopping mall, sure, go for it, but you can’t find the boutique shops that define downtown Newburyport in any run of the mill shopping mall.

    I don’t know what the parking fee scheme will be, but are you truly opposed to inserting a quarter into a meter if you need to run into the bank or the post office? Both have their own operating expenses, and if a local parking tax can indirectly support business development to keep those organizations in town, how is that not a good thing?

    Welcome to the blogosphere.

  2. as a resident you pay an excise tax on your vehicle, which is used to pay for the expenses the city incurs due to your vehicle. this includes parking. i won’t be taxed twice for the same services, i don’t know about you.

    also, how would having paid parking benefit businesses? they wouldn’t see any of the revenue generated from the meters.

    as for maudsley, i don’t pay to park there since they changed their policy, i’ll park on Daniel Lucy Dr., and when i go to the refuge i go to Sandy Point because its free.

    I guess i’m just cheap.

  3. Ahh, so it’s about the excise tax. Considering that City Hall has a list of every motor vehicle’s license plate and garaging location for payment of excise taxes, let’s suppose those vehicles are tagged and allowed to park in a paid space without consequence. Let’s further imagine that residents who lease or rent vehicles don’t have such a tag; why should they be singled out for paying to park?

    Revenue from parking meters will not directly impact a business, but there are potential indirect benefits. With increased revenue coming into the city’s coffers, the city can expend more funds on sidewalk improvements, tree building, etc., which would benefit the business.

  4. i don’t think any resident should have to pay to park in their own town, so whether they rent or lease or own is irrelevant to me. but if the city is going to take my money for an excise tax, don’t expect me to pay to park the very car i’m being taxed for, on city street or in city lots. its not complicated. if you want to charge tourists to come visit the city, the by all means do so, gouge them for all i care, they are, after all, the reason parking is hard to find, and the reason a garage may be built. let them cover the costs, not me.

  5. Guys, get back on track.

    The bigger issue facing Nbpt is why there seem to be so many changes happening that, at least at first glance, seem designed to aid and abet Mr. Karp’s plans for the H20front, from the proposed garage to the redirecting of traffic on state Street, which is clearly a ploy to funnel traffick TOWARD the waterfront and Mr. Karp’s property.
    And we, the residents, are going to be stuck with coverage a significant portion of the costs of all these changes.

  6. Mr X. You may post my e-mail to you if you want. Jim

  7. macsurf you are right on the money.

    and Jim, i didn’t receive your email, try sending it again?

  8. jim, it was originally posted under the About section.

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