, Newburyport, MA

September 9, 2013

Visitors feel tricked by unadvertised pay-to-park lot

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

My son and I were so excited to visit Newburyport for the first time today on the occasion of the 92.5 Riverfest 2013. What a beautiful city you have! We live in Reading and came up to hear Reading native A.J. Edwards and his band perform as part of the open-air concert event.

Not being familiar with Newburyport — and finding that we were among thousands of other concertgoers — it wasn’t easy to find a parking spot, as you can imagine. I was very excited to see the big blue “P” signs as we pulled through town, indicating the location of public parking — right across from the concert area. We found a spot adjacent to a row of stores, parked the car and made it to the stage in plenty of time to hear A.J. perform. It couldn’t have been easier!

Imagine my surprise upon returning to the car an hour later to find a $15 parking ticket on my window. There was no sign near where we were parked that said anything about this being a “pay to park” public lot. There was no indication on any of the big blue “P” public parking signs indicating that public parking would cost money. And only after furtively searching around the other parked cars did I see, hidden behind a row of mini-vans, a “pay to park” machine with a small sign that said you had to pay for a ticket to place on your dash.

What infuriates me the most about this situation is that most of the folks who drove to this huge event were from out of town, whereby most of the other cars parked there would not be familiar with the “pay to park” kiosk hidden in the lot. Knowing that there would be many, many folks coming to Newburyport from out of town, couldn’t the City of Newburyport have considered in advance that parking tickets for legally parked cars might not be a way to make newcomers feel welcomed? On top of all the additional sales that the Newburyport stores are making today by these thousands of visitors, did the City of Newburyport have to extend the hand of friendship by slapping us with parking tickets — when we were parked legally, in a public parking lot?

Needless to say, it sounds like a shifty money-making attack on out-of-towners. And it doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth for future visits to Newburyport.

Christine Larsen Hylan