Northampton parking deck opens to public this summer
Northampton officials still plan to have public parking in the new garage on Gothic Street next to the police station at night beginning this summer.
GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »
Building of the garage for the Northampton police station Monday afternoon. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — Though construction of a parking garage next to the police station wrapped up in early April, it will be a few more weeks before the public can start using the prime downtown spot.
The two-level parking deck, built in conjunction with the new police station, is on Gothic Street across from the Hampshire County Courthouse. The 66-space top level is reserved for police at all times, while 55 spaces on the lower level are set aside during the day for courthouse and Hampshire Council of Governments employees.
As promised, city officials intend to convert the lower level to public parking on weekends and weeknights between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., said David Pomerantz, director of the city’s Central Services Department.
“We definitely want to encourage parking,” Pomerantz said.
Before that happens, the city and a new parking subcommittee must vet several options and craft an ordinance for City Council approval. Pomerantz hopes that process happens quickly so that the garage can open to the public in the summer.
The Parking Committee, a subcommittee of the Transportation and Parking Commission, will likely study a pay-to-park station like other lots in the city or a long-term permit for overnight parking. The committee might also discuss opening the space up for free parking, but a fee structure is more likely given the garage’s prime location downtown.
“No matter what option we choose, the level has to be empty by 7 a.m., Monday through Friday,” Pomerantz said.
Until these changes are approved, the parking area is not open to the public. Signs posted at the garage entrance on Gothic Street call for permit parking only, with permits issued to employees who work in the courthouse building.
The state and the Hampshire Council of Governments agreed to let the city build the garage at that site in exchange for a 99-year lease that secures daytime parking between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.
Five parking meters on Gothic Street will also be reserved during the day for police personnel who have business at the courthouse. After 4 p.m., the spaces will convert to public parking, Police Chief Russell Sienkiewicz said.
Meantime, the James House lot is back online as a standard pay-to-park lot after having been used by police and courthouse employees during construction. That means James House parking, which had been free on weekends during construction, now costs money.
Parking meters are also about to go online in front of the police station on Center Street, and signs will be installed that make it more clear that a small area at the police station steps is for people who have business at the station.