NEWBURYPORT — The city’s Waterfront Trust has changed its rules regarding the highly sought parking spaces it owns, sparking a bit of a controversy among at least one business that depends on those spots.
Part of the west parking lot off Merrimac Street is owned by the Waterfront Trust, and that area has recently undergone changes that mean some free spots are now paid spaces.
The Waterfront Trust leases about 64 spots in Riverside Park to the city, which manages revenues. Parking places leased to businesses such as (the former) Davis Auto Parts and 40R Merrimac Street in the past have reverted to public spaces.
The Waterfront Trust, which supervises Riverside Park, has declined to offer leases to private owners, including Joseph Leone, who has plans to build the Merrimac Ale House on the Davis site, and David Murphy, who owns 40R Merrimac St.
One tenant of 40R Merrimac St., Port City Sandwich Shop owner Tyke Karapoulos, has expressed concern that retailers such as himself have lost parking spots that formerly were free to customers.
City officials say that the Waterfront Trust had leased spots to David Murphy in a “grandfathered” arrangement.
When Leone asked to lease spaces, the Trust declined the request. And in an effort to provide equal treatment to all business owners, Trust members are not leasing spots to Leone and they are not leasing to Murphy.
About eight spots (total) formerly rented by Davis Auto Parts and the 40R Merrimac building are reverting from leased spots to public parking, city officials say.
Perhaps adding to the confusion of changing rules in the west lot, parking stickers on Newburyport vehicles are not honored in the Waterfront Trust lot there.
“We are required to treat Newbury, West Newbury and Newburyport alike,” said Scott Sutherland, a member of the Waterfront Trust. “We can’t give special status to Newburyport” and thus this city’s resident stickers are not honored in Riverside Park lots.