There will no doubt be a lot of moans and groans Wednesday morning, when drivers find out they can no longer park for free on the city’s I-4, C-2 property, in other spots along Rogers Street and in the city lot in front of the Gloucester House, where a number of meters were uprooted three months ago.
And there will be a fair amount of fumbling and grumbling as parkers try to first find the right parking kiosk that will regulate his or her spot, then figure out now to use it.
But it’s a system that the city and its taxpayers should welcome. The debut of the new kiosks, set to be installed today, won’t simply collect parking fees in the city lots and on Rogers Street that have failed to bring in a dime for nearly three months; they will finally let the city reel in some revenue from its I-4, C-2 site that has remained vacant — and open for free, unregulated parking — since the fall of 2010.
The removal of previous meters along the waterfront side of Rogers Street street and in the city-run parking lot in front of The Gloucester House came while the city was carrying out construction of Gloucester’s new Harborwalk, which ran about two months behind schedule. So there’s a context to that.
But the city’s failure to charge for parking on the I-4, C-2 lot — which is accessible to vehicles only via a narrow driveway off Rogers Street — has remained mystifying. Mayor Carolyn Kirk had noted last year that hiring one or more employees to collect fees and regulate parking on the site simply wasn’t realistic or cost-effective – and there may be something to that. But when Treasurer Jeff Towne totals up the city’s parking revenues at the end of the year and finds the meter revenue off by thousands, it will be hard not to think of the money the city left on the table by allowing motorists to park all over a free waterfront lot that cost city and state taxpayers $1.5 million.
This is a property that needs to be generating revenue, whether via parking or through a development project that has yet to emerge.
The installation of these new parking kiosks means the parking free ride on I-4, C-2 is over — and not a minute too soon.