Northampton, diocese reach parking deal on downtown church lot

  • The city of Northampton has reached an agreement with the Springfield Diocese to use the parking lot at the now-vacant St. Mary’s church as a temporary municipal lot, effective July 28 to Oct. 15. Motorists can access the lot from State Street. FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 7/27/2021 11:19:38 AM

NORTHAMPTON – A temporary deal between the city and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield will increase parking in downtown Northampton by 42 spaces until mid-October.

Mayor David Narkewicz said the St. Mary’s Church parking lot on State Street became a short-term municipal parking lot today, and the agreement lasts through Oct. 15. The church has stood vacant since 2010 and is listed for sale.

City crews on Tuesday painted lines and beautified the lot to prepare for its use. 

“With the unexpected shutdown of the Masonic Street Lot, and the long-planned construction in the Round House parking lot, we’re grateful and thrilled to have reached an agreement with the Diocese to restore some capacity to the downtown parking system,” Narkewicz said in a statement.

The Masonic Street and Round House lots are closed for reconstruction, making at least 225 downtown parking spaces unavailable as the city’s businesses work to recover from COVID-19 shutdowns.

City officials say there is still plenty of on-street and off-street parking downtown, and that the parking garage consistently has as many as 200 open spaces.

Rather than directly paying for the use of the St. Mary’s lot, the city entered an agreement to share parking revenue with the diocese.

Drivers can enter the St. Mary’s lot via State Street, across from the Fly By Night furniture store. Parking fees should be paid at the State Street kiosks or by using the ParkMobile App. The parking zone number is 6362.

Maximum parking time in the lot is two hours. City parking meters and pay-to-park kiosks are in operation Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Especially heading into Sidewalk Sales this weekend, we’re confident that these 42 new spots will further strengthen our already robust parking system,” Narkewicz said. 

The outdoor Sidewalk Sales on Main and Pleasant streets are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Amy Cahillane, executive director of the Downtown Northampton Association (DNA), said downtown business owners are looking forward to the new lot. DNA organizes the Sidewalk Sales, and Cahillane said the additional spaces will make a difference.

“We are incredibly grateful and delighted that the city worked out this agreement,” said Cahillane. “There’s been a stress on parking on the upper end of Main Street” since the Masonic Street and Round House lots closed, “and the St. Mary’s lot is just in a great location.”

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.


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