Standing on Principle with Newburyport’s Paid Parking Issue

I usually do not post here about local politics but last Friday, I felt compelled to speak out about the proposed paid parking plan in my hometown, Newburyport, MA..

The Wednesday edition of the Newburyport Daily News published an edited version of my blog post for their As I See It column on the Opinion page. After writing the initial blog post, at the urging of a few folks who work in Newburyport’s downtown, I drafted a petition to circulate on the issue. I had notified the John Marcone, editor of the Daily News about the petition and he felt it worthy of a story in the Daily News. Yesterday, Lynne Hendricks interviewed me for this piece: Workers against fee for parking.

I want to thank the John Marcone and Daily News for recognizing that this is an issue of importance to downtown businesses and their employees. It’s an issue that really stands on principle of fair and equitable treatment, I believe.  As of yet, I will also note that only 2 City Councilors have been in touch with me and the president of Newburyport’s Chamber of Commerce did not return my call.

It is my understanding that some members of the City Council feel that the disparity between the resident fee of $5 a year and the $100 fee for non-resident business owners or employees, can be justified citing that residents pay property taxes. But… the folks most apt to buy a yearly parking pass to the downtown Newburyport parking lots are all most likely apartment dwellers who live in downtown Newburyport and don’t have parking.  

And then, we should consider that some downtown businesses actually pay their landlords property taxes. Yes, it’s true. I am told that some landlords inclue this in the lease. So small business owners pay taxes to do business in Newburyport and they pay their landlord’s property taxes. No problem, another fee for non-residents business owners won’t hurt now will it? After all the economy is booming… Not.

Finally, on the matter of principle… Many of the downtown merchants and restaurants employ seasonal workers, will they all have to pay for a full year’s pass too? And what if a non-resident downtown employee buys a pass and then loses their job a couple of months later… Oops… Sorry not our problem…

In all honesty, I have better things to do with my time than write about small town politics and gather signatures on a petition, but as a matter of principle I feel that Newburyport’s proposed $100 fee for non-resident business owners and employees is not not jobs or small business friendly and apparently there are quite a few folks who work in downtown Newburyport who agree with me.

Stay tuned… Newburyport’s City Council meets at 7:30 on Monday February 7 to vote on this issue. Concerned citizens, (resident or non-resident) business owners and their employees can be heard at that meeting if they show up prior to 7:30 and sign the sheet on the door — after that it is my understanding that each person will be afforded 2-minute to speak out on the issue.

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