Business owners say parking meters interfere with business

About once a week or so, Laura D’Amico of Century 21 Citiwide on Broadway is in the midst of heavy negotiations with a seller or buyer.

Concentration is key in such situations, yet she said that she and the other agents in her office are constantly preoccupied by having to feed the parking meter in order to avoid a ticket.

For all Broadway business owners and employees, such important meetings, she said, are routinely interrupted by trips outside to the parking meter – whether its paying an extra quarter or two to avoid a fine, or moving the car altogether so as not to get a ticket for staying in one spot more than two hours.

“I park across the street and feed the meter,” said Kevin Chiles, who owns Madison Printing Group on Pleasant Street across from City Hall. “If I get an important call from a big client, do I say, ‘Hold on Mr. Big Client while I go put money in the meter so I don’t get a ticket…With me, I look at it as just part of being on Broadway. It’s the price to pay for working here.”

D’Amico said it is very frustrating disrupting business so often.

“Prior to them putting new meters on Hyde Street, we used to park there,” she said. “Now that there are meters there, you will see that the spaces are basically empty. It’s just really difficult if you’re in a meeting to have to stop and run out to avoid a $20 ticket. I have agents that get about four tickets a month.”

Added Chiles, “If it’s raining out and I have to make a delivery, I can’t risk getting it wet. I deal in paper and it would be ruined. When my drivers pull up, they may get a ticket for parking there because there is no loading zone. It’s just not business friendly.”

All of the above frustrations, plus those not reiterated here, are coalescing into an effort spearheaded by the Revere Chamber of Commerce to bring a new parking program for business owners to the Broadway and Shirley Avenue business districts. Both areas are heavy on the parking meters and feature very aggressive enforcement.

Chamber Executive Director Laurie Leone said that one aspects of the parking problem is that owners of businesses and their employees have nowhere to park. Most of the spaces are metered and can only be held for two hours. Staying in a spot more than two hours will get one a ticket, as will not feeding the meter on time.

Leone and others in the Chamber, including D’Amico, its president, said that they are proposing a plan to the Revere Traffic Commission that would allow business owners to buy parking stickers monthly or annually. Those stickers would allow them to park at certain designated meters without having to feed the meter or move every two hours.

Leone stressed that owners would not want to tie up prime spaces on Broadway or Shirley Avenue, but rather spaces on side streets that are near their businesses.

It’s a program that has worked in Everett already.

Last week, Chamber members rolled out their request to the Traffic Commission, which consists of DPW Superintendent Don Goodwin, Police Chief Terence Reardon, Fire Chief Gene Doherty and City Planner Frank Stringi.

Goodwin was sympathetic to the cause, saying it’s worth a further look. However, the Commission failed to advance the request to a public hearing, instead asking to table the issue until next meeting.

“I think we all recognize we do have a problem in our central business district,” said Goodwin, the commission chair. “I don’t want to take a knee jerk reaction, but I have to recognize the problem. There are too many empty buildings, too many empty shops and it’s more than the bad economy that is contributing to people not wanting to operate their businesses on Broadway. Just look at Chelsea, they have a vibrant business district – not much different than Revere’s. I will give this some solid thought.”

City Planner Frank Stringi was less receptive.

“There’s not that many parking spaces already,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to block out what we do have with owners and employees driving away the customer base. We have to strike a balance here and it won’t be an easy one.”

Chiles said he’s not completely sold on the parking sticker program. He points to business districts like Winthrop and Melrose that don’t have meters and make it very easy to get in and out of the businesses. Therefore, he said, they have thriving commercial areas, not stifled ones.

“I’m glad, though, to see they’re at least revisiting it to try and make it more of a business-friendly place,” he said.

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