This is what downtown Rockport
looks like in winter. It's beautiful,
especially when the Christmas trees
are up, but it looks like a ghost town.
The winter parking ban in Rockport has outlived its usefulness. It’s time for the town to replace the four-and-a-half-month overnight parking ban with a ban during snow emergencies only.
This fall we spoke with many of our downtown neighbors and businesses, and found that most share our desire for change. My husband went door to door downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods. He took the time to speak with shopkeepers and neighbors, and left a copy of the proposal with them. He and I returned a few days later with a petition. My daughter also chatted with residents. Of the more than 100 people we spoke with, only two did not sign the petition.
The ban should be changed because:
- We have a Red Alert system that can let us know when there’s a snow emergency.
- We have a changeable sign system near the police station that can also broadcast snow emergencies
- Rockport has a great, new website that can display snow emergency notifications just as it now displays notices of the winter parking ban.
- Almost everyone has a cell phone or computer and can check the website.
- Storms are now forecast days in advance.
- Things have changed a lot in the few years. Only a couple of motel owners now rent overnight spaces.
- Residents pay $150 and up to rent these scarce parking spaces.
- There aren’t enough resident parking spaces in the town lots and we have to pay to park there, as well.
- Handicapped and elderly residents have a hard time walking to and from distant lots in the dark and cold months of the year.
- The empty streets give Rockport a bleak, vacant look that is bad for business. The Rockport Economic Commission is spending taxpayers’ dollars to attract visitors to Rockport in the shoulder seasons and to interest young families in settling here. If we look less like a ghost town in winter, we can help businesses, including restaurants, stretch their season.
- We will be able to come and go more freely at night, especially downtown. This activity will signal to our neighbors, residents, and the rest of the world that Rockport is open for business.
- We should be considerate of the downtown business district for the period of time when meters are not monitored in order to discourage people from parking in front of businesses all day. Law enforcement should be vigilant.
- With the help of our local papers and social media, we can easily communicate the ground rules of the new system. Violators will be fined and towed. They won’t violate the rules for long if we rigorously enforce this plan from the start.
- Implementing a residents’ Winter Parking Task Force to work with the police, DPW and the community, like we did when we implemented the leash law, will ease the transition.
- Plows work around parked cars throughout the day as it is.By implementing an emergency ban, there will be no cars on the streets during the storm, regardless of the time of day.