'Smart Parking' Pilot Would Assess Single-Space Meters vs Solar-Powered Kiosks

The proposal is to install single-space "smart parking meters" as part of a 90-day pilot program in in Haverhill, Mass.

by Peter Francis, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass. / April 18, 2017

(TNS) -- HAVERHILL — Since its inception, there have been cries from Haverhill officials and residents to overhaul the city's paid parking system.

From proposals to implement minor changes to completely removing the solar-powered kiosk meters, it seems everyone has an opinion about what the city should do with parking going forward.

This week, City Councilor Colin LePage will bring forward a new proposal from the city's Parking Commission to install single-space meters along Emerson Street for a three-month trial.

The commission was appointed by Mayor James Fiorentini and tasked with overseeing the city's downtown parking operation and making recommendations on how to improve it.

The proposal is to install single-space "smart parking meters" as part of a 90-day pilot program. The idea intrigues Council President John Michitson, who said Sunday that the trial will be to see whether the single-space meters will prove to be more popular than the solar-powered kiosks.

"People lose track of where the kiosks are, and then they can't remember their space number," Michitson said of the difficulties people have expressed to him regarding the machines. "All those things form a barrier to parking downtown."

While modeled after old-styled parking meters that collected coins, Michitson said these single-space meters will be modernized with a digital display.

Unfortunately, he believes passing the pilot program isn't a slam dunk.

"So many councilors live or own businesses downtown, all the remaining councilors will have to vote yes," Michitson said.

On the same night that the smart parking proposal is unveiled, Bradford resident Ted Gaiero will address the council on a proposal he made months ago for free parking downtown for veterans when they use public transportation to get to appointments at VA hospitals in Bedford and Boston.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Gaiero has spoken passionately about the need to take care of the city's veterans.

Michitson said the parking commission will be meeting with Gaiero and the city's Veterans Services Director Michael Ingham in a meeting before the council meeting Tuesday.

In a conversation with Parking Commission Chairwoman Meredith Warren, Michitson said the purpose of the meeting with Gaiero and Ingham is to determine how many veterans would potentially utilize the free parking.

"The commission will discuss offering a limited number of veterans passes," said Michitson. "The commission then makes recommendations to the mayor, who proposes ordinances to the council, and we then vote on them."

©2017 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.