SALISBURY — Better overnight parking options and the adoption of a snow emergency parking ban could be in store for residents this winter.
Many beach area residents were unhappy with the town’s new parking system that saw the installation of pay-by-plate parking kiosks near Salisbury Beach last spring.
A special parking subcommittee was formed over the summer that included Selectman Chuck Takesian and beach residents to resolve the issue. Town Manager Neil Harrington gave the Board of Selectmen an update on the subcommittee’s progress at its meeting Monday.
“We went to a kiosk system in hopes of trying to standardize the situation at the beach,” Harrington said. “We adopted zones and we had a couple of hiccups.”
Five parking zones were created in the spring but not every zone carried the same rates or time restrictions, which Harrington said caused plenty of confusion over the summer.
“We found out that people who didn’t want to stand in line at a particular kiosk to pay for their parking went to a different kiosk that happened to be for a different zone,” Harrington said. “They paid at the other kiosk but they got a ticket in the zone they were parked in. So there was a lot of confusion. There were a lot of tickets that were voided but it was still a somewhat turbulent situation.”
Harrington said the town will need to look at purchasing more parking kiosks in the future and the parking subcommittee is looking at potentially eliminating the parking zones in favor of a “more standardized situation” with Ocean Front South and the Broadway Mall as exceptions.
“We still want to encourage turnover for businesses on Broadway,” Harrington said. “The committee will have a meeting with the Broadway merchants to see, in terms of the parking and the turnover and the two-hour limit we had last year, whether that was working. We know we need additional kiosks at Broadway.”
Harrington also addressed the town’s current winter overnight parking ban.
“The ban runs from December 1 to April 1 and only between midnight and 6 a.m., which really doesn’t make a lot of sense if you think about it,” Harrington said. “If there was a snowstorm in the day, you want to plow during the day. With the ban that we have, it only applies from midnight until 6 a.m., which is great if the snow falls between then. But if it is not it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Since the town does not have a bylaw governing overnight parking, Harrington told selectmen they will ultimately need to make a decision on the matter.
“This really is a policy issue which was made by a Board of Selectmen many, many years ago,” he said. “So we were talking about going to a snow emergency situation, which many other towns have adopted. Once you have declared a snow emergency, you get the word out and through Reverse 911 and social media and the town’s website, etc.”
Harrington said the snow emergency notification system could be administered by the Police and Public Works departments and allowing South End residents to park in the municipal beach parking lot would also help with parking concerns.
“This is something for the board to consider as a matter of policy,” Harrington said. “We hope you will think about that and we will have a recommendation for you, hopefully before the next meeting.”
Selectman Wilma McDonald said she was concerned about people parking on the sidewalks during a snow emergency.
“If there are cars parked on some of those narrow streets, it is going to be a chore to navigate them,” McDonald said.
Harrington told McDonald that a notice would be given to residents advising them not to park on sidewalks or to block a roadway as part of the snow emergency announcement.
“That is a law anyway,” he said. “If the snow is piled up in a particular area, it wouldn’t make any sense for you to park there. If you were blocking the roadway or blocking people’s ability to get by, you would probably get towed.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.