2017-07-28 / Front Page

Bayview parking has a price

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Parking along a stretch on Bayview Avenue parallel to Higgins Beach may soon transition from free to paid in light of a decision by the council this spring to increase non-property tax revenue in order to lessen the burden on taxpayers. (Michael Kelley photo) Parking along a stretch on Bayview Avenue parallel to Higgins Beach may soon transition from free to paid in light of a decision by the council this spring to increase non-property tax revenue in order to lessen the burden on taxpayers. (Michael Kelley photo) Parking was allowed for the first time in Higgins Beach outside the beach parking lot in 2011 when 13 parking spaces were added to the ocean side of Bayview Avenue between Pearl and Morning streets.

The spaces were intended for short-term use, but after years of complaints from people in the neighborhood about people overstaying their welcome in those spots and allegations of public nudity and other inappropriate behavior, the town invested in a state-of-the art bathhouse. The bathhouse features restrooms, changing facilities and an outdoor shower.

In November 2015, the town added a parking meter to help enforce the one-hour limit on the Bayview Avenue spaces and reduce those complaints.


The parking meter that controls the dozen on-street parking spaces on Bayview Avenue will have to be reprogrammed before it can begin accepting money. (Michael Kelley photo) The parking meter that controls the dozen on-street parking spaces on Bayview Avenue will have to be reprogrammed before it can begin accepting money. (Michael Kelley photo) Now, a little more than a year after the parking meter was installed, a fee will be charged for parking on that section of Bayview Avenue.

The town council voted in May to start charging $1 per hour for the spaces in an effort to generate additional municipal revenue to reduce the burden on taxpayers.

“Clearly it is a policy decision (of the council) if they want to charge and what they charge,” said Police Chief Robbie Moulton. “It looks like that’s the direction the council is heading. We had conversations about that during the budget discussions. This may be somewhat of an experiment in terms of how we move forward with some of the beach parking, but that is just speculation on my part.”

The group, last week, heard a proposal from Town Manager Tom Hall on how to implement a fee-based parking system. Hall said the meter in place now has the ability to accept payment, but will need to be reprogrammed in order to do so. In a letter to councilors explaining his proposal, Hall said the intent is to “keep things as consistent as possible with the current program.” To that end, users of the spaces will still have to input their license plate number in order to print out a time- stamped slip of paper to display on their dashboard.

“All these elements are important for proper enforcement and would not change with the initiation of a fee,” Hall wrote. “The only real difference is the ticket will not be issued until payment is made or otherwise satisfied.”

Hall is recommending only allowing residents to pay for parking using a credit card or coins as he has been told by the maker of the machine accepting dollar bills is “fraught with issues.” Hall recommends charging for the parking for the entire time parking is allowed on that section (6 a.m. to 10 p.m.). As it stands now, the one-hour parking restriction is not in effect from Sept. 16 to April 30, during which time parking is also allowed on the oceanside of Bayview Avenue from Morning Street to Vesper Street.

Under the news system, parking in those spots during the season would be free for season pass holders, as long as they print out a parking slip from the meter station by inputting their license plate number and the four digit number from their beach pass.

“I would recommend current season pass holders and future season pass holders not be required to pay. That is part of what they get with the pass,” he said.

Likewise those individuals with senior beach passes will also be able to park in those spaces for free. In order to do so, however, aside from printing out a parking slip, they will also have to place their beach pass on their dashboard as well.

The penalty for violating the parking limit, or any other parking restriction at Higgins Beach is an $80 fine, which drops down to $40 if paid within 30 days.

Town councilors will review Hall’s proposal at their Aug. 16 meeting and if accepted, the parking fee would be implemented on Friday, Sept. 1.

Hall told councilors this is an “interim” step before a more efficient system can be suggested. Implementing it in September, he said, allows for the town to “works the bugs out” before next summer.

Councilor Bill Donovan, who lives at Higgins Beach, said in talking with people in the neighborhood, it seems the metered parking was “a big advancement in terms of addressing the problems.”

Aside from seemingly placating complaints from residents regarding behavior, Moulton said the meters have helped his officers be able to better enforce the parking.

“It’s very difficult to monitor that beach area and keep going around and marking tires and keeping track of times. The slip has definitely had an impact on our enforcement,” he said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarbroughleader.com.

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