For the third time in four months, the City Council said it wants to have a full conversation about downtown parking.
But it still hasn't determined how to do that - whether that means hiring a consultant or doing it internally. On Tuesday, the council agreed to have the city solicitor craft an order to have the newly constructed Summer Street surface lot have 90 minutes of free parking instead of the current 30 minutes. But not before many councilors pled for a wider examination of the overa
In a split 3-2 vote, the City Council's Ordinance and Rules subcommittee recommended 90-minute parking in the newly constructed Summer Street lot.
But it urged the administration to bring back the original consultant to do an updated analysis of the parking meter plan.
As the debate over the installation of meters in the newly construction Summer Street surface lot has begun in earnest, many are calling for a full-scale review of the parking program.
The City Council has called for an analysis, Downtown Pittsfield Inc. has called for one, Berkshire Nautilus, who is opposing it, has called for one. And many in the public have called for one.
The Traffic Commission isn't willing to remove meters from the newly opened Columbus Street surface lot but is willing to discuss an overall examination of the entire meter system.
Berkshire Nautilus Owner Jim Ramondetta and Manager Glen McBurney have been fighting the city over the new meters. Prior to the garage being torn down and replaced, there were free three-hour public spaces.
A petition against putting parking meters in the new Columbus Avenue surface lot could trigger a full re-examination of the parking program.
Berkshire Nautilus Owner Jim Ramondetta submitted a petition with some 800 signatures of people opposing putting parking meters in the new lot. Ramondetta claims the city had not kept him informed of the move and that meters would hinder his business. He's righting back, calling for 90-minute parking, like he has now, instead.
The owner of Berkshire Nautilus is glad to see the eyesore of a Columbus Avenue parking garage come down. But, he feels deceived by the city because now parking meters are eyed for the new surface lot.
"I was literally stunned to learn for the very first time that not only would there be no additional free three-hour public spaces created with this," Owner Jim Ramondetta told the City Council on Tuesday.
City Councilor Wayne Wilkinson had raised the idea of meeting earlier as the council's meetings crept longer into the evening. With meetings regularly running past 9 and sometimes closer to 10, Wilkinson thought a 6 p.m. start rather than 7:30 would get the councilors and audience out earlier.
The commission in January voted to raise the price in the Center Street lot by $10 but couldn't address the St. Anthony lot because it had not been put on the agenda. On Monday, the commissioners agreed that permits in both lots should cost the same.
The commission endorsed a plan on Thursday that calls for no parking on the non-school sides of Pomeroy Avenue and Marshall Street. It will also extend no parking on the school side of Pomeroy from Beverly to the school, where the road bends.
The mayor has signed a five-year agreement with Republic Services, circumventing the City Council's wishes to have the contract go to bid.
The new contract had already been basically agreed to before the City Council urged the mayor to put the contract to bid. Nonetheless, city councilors were surprised to learn on Tuesday that the agreement had been signed after advocating for the contract to be publicly bid.
Since the parking meters were installed in January 2017, just short of $200,000 has been collected.
And with that, the city is looking to spend $146,000 on parking-related expenses. The council had previously approved spending $130,000 and approved increasing that by $16,000 Tuesday night to cover additional fees associated with the four newest meters in the renovated First Street parking lot and increased processing fees from more people using the app to pay.
The parking meters are taking in between $16,000 and $17,000 a month, according to Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood.
The city implemented paid parking downtown at the start of this year and has become quite a debated issue in the city. The intent of the parking plan was to create a revenue stream to fund repairs to the McKay Street garage. The plan dates back to 2013 when it was developed by the consultants Nelson Nygaard.