Lynn meeting to address parking issues downtown

February 28, 2013
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

New and expanding businesses and nearly 250 new residents in the downtown area are shining a spotlight on the city’s lack of parking.

The Off Street Parking Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to hold a public hearing April 23 on the issue of parking in the downtown area.

“To talk about parking in a real way,” said Commission Chairman Taso Nickolakopoulos.

Parking Director Jay Fenton told the commission he has been working to shuffle those with paid parking passes among several downtown city lots in attempt to free up spaces.

“We have about 335 monthly parkers in a lot that will only hold, if all the spaces are available, 220,” he said.

The concern is that businesses fill the lots during the day, residents are looking for places to park at night and new people coming into the area will only add to the shortage.

Nickolakopoulos said he wants to sit down with business owners, residents, city officials and anyone who regularly patronizes the downtown area to try and work out solutions. Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Executive Director James Cowdell said as problems go a lack of parking isn’t a bad one to have. It shows the downtown is expanding, he said.

However, Cowdell has long said his goal is to move a total of 500 people into the downtown area, which could potentially make parking that much more of a headache.

The city owns lots on Andrew, Ellis/School, Buffum and Johnson streets. According to Fenton Buffum is overflowing, Cowdell said the Ellis/School street lot is about 35 percent full but Willow Labs is expected to expand and is looking for another 50 parking spaces.

D’Amici’s Bakery is also expected to bring additional traffic to the downtown area when it opens its commissary and cafe on Sutton Street.

Cowdell along with Commissioner Jamie Cerulli would like to see a second entrance and egress added to the Andrew Street lot so traffic could access the lot via Sutton Street as well. Fenton, however, is not a fan of the idea.

“Parking has to meet the needs of the residents and businesses,” Cowdell said.

Jackson, Nickolakopoulos and Commissioner Jamie Cerulli said they would like to see the freeze on parking passes lifted but Fenton said that wouldn’t be wise right now.

“From a planning standpoint there has been no plan for where residents or new businesses are going to park,” he said. “Case in point will be the issue of D’Amici’s Bakery.”

Cowdell said he would like to see the lots opened up to residents for free overnight parking with the caveat that they vacate the spaces by 7 a.m.

“It wouldn’t negatively impact one single business,” he said.

Commissioner Corey Jackson said for the most part parking isn’t an issue for current downtown residents but he is looking for one or two new spaces for potential real estate sales. Cowdell, however, noted that the commission needs to look at the larger picture when it comes to parking.

“Anytime you have development you’re going to have parking issues,” he said. “You need to plan for that.”

Chris Stevens can be reached at



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