Hippo Manchester
December 8, 2005


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Publisher's Note: Solution to parking woes
by Jody Reese

A parking consultant recently hired by the city government wants to extend meter hours from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., sell existing city owned parking garages, build another parking garage and hire more parking control officers.

While the study does offer some great ideas (not the ones listed above), the core thrust of the plan would take downtown in the wrong direction and kill off many local businesses. I suggest we structure parking rules around how the downtown is used by customers, business owner and office workers.

Downtown should be broken into two zones of parking: on Elm Street and off Elm Street. Within each zone, city government should carve out specific parking sub-zones. This plan will cost the city no extra money and make it easier for most businesses to operate downtown.

On-Elm Zone (applies only to parking space on Elm Street)

From the area in front of the Verizon Wireless Arena north to Merrimack Street: Parking should be limited to 30 minutes for quick stops from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. parking should be kept to a two hours limit.

From Merrimack north to Hanover Street: 60 percent of the parking spots should be kept for the 30-minute max quick stops and the other 40 percent should be limited to three hours of parking, so users of that space can go to area salons, spas and restaurants.

From Hanover Street north to Bridge Street: All spots should be reserved for 30 minute quick stops.

Off-Elm Zone (applies only to parking space off Elm Street)

Verizon/Gas Light area: One hour parking limits from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and two hour from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Merrimack Street: Three hour parking with spots closer to Chestnut Street allowing 10 hour for residents with permits.

Manchester Street: 30 minute quick spots on both sides of the street from Elm to Chestnut Street.

Hanover Street: 30 minute quick spots on the south side for retail and three hour parking on the north side for the salons and restaurants.

Historic District (area north of Center of NH, east of Canal Street, north of Hampshire Plaza and west of City Hall): Three hour parking for non-permit holders

Stark, Mechanic and Amherst Streets: 30 minute quick stops 100 feet from Elm Street, rest 10 hour parking.

Concord and Lowell Streets: 30 minute quick parking 200 feet from Elm Street, with remaining spots available for three hours.

For residential parking

Suspend all odd-even parking rules, offer permits to all living downtown, but charge $10 per month for it. Limit residential parking to side streets off Elm.

Local business owners must also be permitted to load and unload at the back and front of their businesses from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. without problems from parking control officers. Restaurant employers should be given incentives to get their employees to park in the garages, along with special safety precautions.