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Downtown Peabody drawn and quartered

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — Get ready to feed more money into downtown parking meters.

Nearly a year after it was initially proposed, the City Council is getting closer to considering an ordinance that would see the hourly rates at parking meters increase from $.25 per hour to $1 per hour.

The police department is working in conjunction with the city’s Community Development department and the city solicitor to create new ordinance language that would then come back before the council for final approval.

In addition to the increase in hourly parking rates on downtown streets and in city parking lots, the proposal would add parking meters on Railroad Avenue and in front of City Hall on Lowell Street.

It would also add pay-and-display machines at several lots, and increase the amount of time people can park in the lots. Rather than having individual meters for each spot, there are typically several pay-and-display machines in a parking area where motorists pay for the spot and then display a receipt in their vehicles.

“This is just to start creating the language of an ordinance that will then come back here for discussion for the council to thoroughly vet,” said Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz.

The council’s industrial and community development committee first voted on the changes to the downtown parking rates last year, but no action was taken to move the proposal forward until the most recent committee meeting Thursday night.

The proposal calls for display-and-pay kiosks on Railroad Avenue and for the four spaces in front of City Hall. Neither of those locations currently have parking meters.

Councilor-at-Large David Gravel said he would also like to see a recommendation from Community Development and the police on changing out all the meters to the pay and display kiosk system.

“We might be shortchanging ourselves, those meters are a maintenance nightmare on Main Street,” said Gravel. “It would be nice to see them modernized a bit and I’d like to hear their recommendations.”

Ward 2 City Councilor Peter McGinn said no money is set aside at this time for the pay-and- display machines, but that the new fee structure could create revenue to purchase the machines in the future. He also noted that the existing parking ordinance gives police and the city’s purchasing agent the authority to move to the new type of meters if they so desire.

“I’d at least like to see the recommendation and what the cost is,” said Gravel.

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