Monday night the City Council approved the adoption of a Parking Benefits District in the city. The council’s Economic Development Subcommittee recommended the full council adopt the parking benefits district at its May 2 meeting. The district would allow the city to use revenue from its parking meters on Broadway, Shirley Avenue and the Central Avenue parking lot for a number of aesthetic and safety upgrades.
“A parking benefits district allows us to be a little more flexible in how we use our parking meter revenues throughout the city,” said Richard Viscay, the city’s finance director, at the subcommittee meeting. “A parking benefits district essentially gives us more flexibility to use those meter revenues in a more expansive way than we currently use them now, which is primarily paying our parking meter control officers and maintenance of the parking meters.”
The money collected from the meters could be used in districts around those metered areas for aesthetic upgrades, such as new barrels and planters, as well as maintenance and tree plantings, and even some pedestrian safety improvements and green energy initiatives, such as installing new electric vehicle charging stations.
“We do want people to know that we do collect these monies and that we do put them to use; we’re not using it to balance the tax rate or anything else,” said Viscay.
As part of the Parking Benefits District, the city would also create a parking advisory committee to oversee the use of the funds. That committee is likely to include city councillors, representatives from the mayor and finance director’s offices, the parking director and local business people.
Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky said the new district is a great idea and asked if it would use funds from collected tickets and fines as well as the meter revenues. Viscay said the state law only allows cities to collect the meter revenues, not the fines.
“There are a lot of things in that list you mentioned that we have been looking at for a long time, specifically more barrels and more cameras,” said Novoselsky.
“This is designed to improve the aesthetics of some of our main drags, Broadway and Shirley Avenue, where it would be a huge uplift to have more barrels, more streetscaping and more lights,” said Parking Director Zachary Babo. “It also benefits the amenities related to our green energy and our alternative transportation.”
Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri, the chair of the Economic Development Subcommittee, said the Parking Benefits District looks like a great idea.