Dave Kirk: New parking rates add another reason to avoid downtown
|Published: 01-27-2023 5:56 PM
A 50% increase in the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. parking rate? Extended meter hours at $2/hr for 5 to 8 p.m.? A 100% rate increase and extended hours for Saturday? A 22% increase in monthly parking pass? If anyone wants to know how to stifle business and hurt employees and volunteers in the downtown area, the Northampton mayor and City Council know the answer — raise parking rates and extend the hours.
It was bad enough we had to pay for on-street parking when nearby towns have free parking. At least we could go into town in the evening to shop, attend meetings, go to restaurants, attend weekly church events, and attend entertainment venues and not pay for parking. But now, those activities will cost a lot more for everyone. Volunteers at many organizations pay for parking during the day and will now have to pay more. Employees will be paying more for parking. The recent article in the Gazette indicated business owners had “mixed responses” to the changes. I find that hard to believe as all businesses and organizations will be negatively impacted. Employees using monthly passes will see a hefty increase.
Just when all prices are going up, the city adds another reason to avoid downtown. The City Council should have made changes to stimulate business and bring in more tax dollars — free parking on Saturday, free parking after 5 p.m., and cut monthly parking pass fees to $40 to encourage more people (not less) to get a monthly pass.