Concord city council mulls parking updates, lifts Penacook covenants 

Monitor staff
Monday, November 13, 2017

A finalized series of recommendations to change how the city manages its parking includes adding residential permits and aggressively enforcing parking tickets, as well as several financial changes.

The City Council’s Parking Committee finalized its recommendations to the city last month. Some fiscal changes include increasing downtown rates from 75 cents to $1 an hour, allowing a maximum time span of three hours of parking instead of two, and adding new metered areas on several downtown streets.

But the council also has to ponder whether it will update the city’s parking permit system for streets located around the University of New Hampshire Law School, as well as expand areas where parking permits would be allowed.

Concord Deputy City Manager Matt Walsh said the city already has about 40 permits for cars to park on Essex, Blanchard, Perry and Rowell Streets, but some of those permits date back 40 years, when it cost $5 with no renewal. Under the committee’s recommendations, those permits would have to be renewed every year – and the price would go from $5 in fiscal year 2018 to $50 in fiscal years 2019-22.

Walsh acknowledged the change would bring in little revenue – about $2,500 a year – but the change was more about handling the parking better than about making money.

“We don’t know how many are out there or whether they’ve been passed around or what,” Walsh said.

Additionally, the council must decide whether to expand parking permits in areas where it is considering adding 10-hour meter zones, which would better utilize streets in the downtown area. These areas would extend partially up Pleasant Street, down South and North State Street and out to Court Street. The 10-hour-meter zones would be implemented in 2020.

The committee has also recommended more aggressive pursuit of unpaid parking tickets. The city has about $672,769 worth of them dating back to 2001, although those numbers are a year old, Walsh said. Ways to address this would be to add online payment plans, “increase prosecution” and debt collectors. About one-third of those tickets are from Concord and Penacook residents.

The committee also recommended enforcement hours change from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Parking in the city’s garages would remain 50 cents an hour. Rates for the city’s open-air lots would also be reduced from 75 cents to 50 cents per hour. Garages would remain free on Saturdays.

The city will hold a public forum on the issue on Thursday at 8 a.m. at Red River Theatres. The parking plan will be up for a public hearing before the council next month.

Covenants dissolved

A grocery store is one step closer to coming to Penacook.

Councilors voted unanimously to lift covenants on Whitney Road that prohibits developments over 8,000 square feet. The action opens the possibility for Laurie and David Rauseo of Interchange Development LLC, to bring a conceptual 45,000-square-foot grocery store, a 200,000-square-foot warehouse industrial building and several smaller buildings for retail and light industrial use to Penacook.

The fully built-out development could generate as much as $1.1 million in tax revenue, according to a report by Concord City Planner Heather Shank.

The Rauseos will still have to go before the planning board to ask that a portion of their land be rezoned from industrial to urban commercial or gateway performance.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)