City council comes up with new parking system in Northampton

A new system is now in place to make it easier to find a parking spot in the downtown area in Northampton.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:31 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, MA. (WGGB/WSHM) - A new system is now in place to make it easier to find a parking spot in the downtown area in Northampton.

Many people who live and work in the downtown area of Northampton have faced issues with parking, including musician Lexi Weege.

“It definitely is making the gear across town very difficult,” said Weege.

The city is currently soft launching streamline parking which will go into full effect March 27.  Officials say this will help open up more spaces for downtown visitors.

Here’s what’s new, Time limits on metered parking have been removed, instead people will pay for the time needed. Rates will also change based on the time and day. Enforcement hours will now start at 10 a.m., and end between t and 8 p.m., depending on where you are parked.

Let’s break it down for people parking on Main Street and Crafts Avenue, prices increased.  It will cost $1.50 an hour between 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and Saturdays between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On streets further away from downtown like gothic and green streets, prices decreased. The hourly rate has changed to 50 cents an hour from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. during the week and increases to $1 an hour from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Signs and kiosks reflected these changes and they can be found around the area. Violators will receive warnings until March 27, when fines will be enforced.

City Council Vice President Karen Foster told us this new system is designed to make finding a spot to park easier and which will help local businesses.

“The whole goal of this is to actually maintain a vacancy rate of I think its 15 percent for parking,” said Foster. “So, when people come, they will see they will find parking where they want, and they will pay a little bit more to park on Main Street a little closer to their destination and a little less to park a little bit away and to walk or wheel to their destination. I really hope people will give it a chance and hope this can strengthen variance or improve people’s experience with the visit to downtown.”

Western Mass News spoke with several people on Friday afternoon to see if they have mixed opinions on the changes. But many are focused on what it’s costing them.

“It still stinks that the price is going up because it’s not affordable for us either who are just trying to do our job,” said Leverett.

“Downtown Northampton is not thriving as it once did, and I think that raising the cost of parking and lengthening the hours is going to have a real deterrent effect,” said Lois.