It’s been two years now since the town of Rockport wisely signed on to reach out to residents through the CodeRED notification system when facing an approaching major storm, or dealing with some other emergency.
Yet the town has still held onto what seems a true relic of the past — an on-street, overnight, midnight-to-7 a.m. parking ban that is due to start Nov. 15 and carry through April 15.
Now, Selectman Paul Murphy — saying he’s heard a number of residents sound off about the matter — wants town officials to take a fresh look at what amounts to a five-month overnight ban on any street parking, regardless of whether it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy, or, yes, if those streets are covered with snow.
Murphy says he recognizes that areas such as Bearskin Neck and downtown Rockport are most affected, and believes an outright overnight parking ban may be “a little over the top” for those areas, especially when there’s no sign of ice or snow.
Plus, “in this day and age, with all the technology we have, there is no such thing as a sneak-up snowstorm,” Murphy says — and he’s absolutely right.
Other town officials have at least picked up on the need to do something to ease the blanket overnight ban. The town’s Traffic Committee is likely to make a recommendation on a change of dates for the ban, says Department of Public Works director Joe Parisi.
Parisi indicated that he and fellow Traffic Committee members Linda Sanders, the town administrator, and Police Chief John “Tom” McCarthy are willing to shorten the ban to end April 1, rather than April 15. And Parisi said the panel is willing to look at scaling back the nightly time frame so that ban runs only from midnight through 6 a.m., instead of 7.
But why should there be an overnight parking ban at all when the weather’s fine, the streets are clear, and the forecast calls for more of the same? And if notification is seen as the problem, the town could address that hurdle the way that Gloucester does — by simply installing emergency flashing lights at perhaps Dock Square, Five Corners and elsewhere, and getting a better word out to residents regarding the advantages of singing on to CodeRED.
Murphy and his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen are due to take up the issue when they convene tonight at 6 at Town Hall.
Here’s hoping they take steps toward finally lifting an excessive town bylaw whose time has long since passed.