NEWBURYPORT — City officials are in the process of altering some paid-parking regulations and clarifying others on public lots near the waterfront.
A measure is in committee of the City Council to create eight one-hour parking places in the Waterfront Trust lot at the base of Green Street. That lot now offers all-day paid parking, with several 15-minute slots for shoppers wanting to move in and out of a given store.
And in an effort to clarify an evident misunderstanding, city officials say that though several city lots are free for cars with parking stickers, motorists with Newburyport parking stickers cannot park for free in the Waterfront Trust lot.
“This is an educational challenge,” said City Clerk Richard Jones, who supervises parking collections and fines.
Jones said that the Trust views its lot in historic terms, when Newbury, West Newbury and Newburyport all had common claim to riverfront parcels.
Thus those who live in Newburyport do not get preference in this lot and must pay for parking just like visitors from other communities.
Jones said that city parking officers ticket vehicles with city stickers in this lot, and that his office has received numerous visits from Newburyport residents displeased that they received a citation and fine.
The Trust lot and the adjacent parking lot owned by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority have been of interest to city officials because of changes proposed for the future.
A developer is attempting to create a 442-seat restaurant tentatively called the Merrimac Ale House in the area. Also, several merchants on the riverfront have requested that “transient” slots be created so that shoppers can move in and out of the lots.
The lot owned by the Waterfront Trust offers 62 spaces, eight of which now will be for one-hour parking in order to encourage the movement of vehicles, if the City Council approves. Two 15-minute spots will be removed. Other parking is for “all day” use, but motorists must pay at the kiosk.
The NRA west lot has 110 spaces, and the NRA east lot offers 265 parking slots, according to city officials.
Other public lots include the Green Street parking lot with 227, the State Street lot (the lot next to the library) with 31 and the Prince Street lot offering 43.
The Waterfront Trust realizes about $30,000 per year from parking fees, in accordance to a pact with the city. The NRA receives about $91,000 per year, based on receipts from both lots.
City officials have been involved for years in plans to create a parking garage in that area, but no plans appear to be moving forward.
The New England Development Co. is considering construction of an 85-room hotel near the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb streets, and municipal leaders say that a public-private garage may emerge from this proposal. But no agreement has been announced for a parking garage.