Published in the October 28, 2016 edition

MELROSE — People are flocking into downtown Melrose from all over the North Shore, according to Mayor Rob Dolan, and as a result, the city needs to make space available for them to park.

Part of the solution, city planners and others believe, is by having employees of downtown businesses park someplace else.

In announcing the next phase of the Melrose’s plan to improve parking downtown, Dolan said employees need to park in designated areas so spaces closest to business are available for patrons.

“We must have a customer-comes-first philosophy to our parking system because we will lose business to Route 1 and the malls if we don’t,” Dolan explained matter-of-factly.

The measure Dolan and his administration are proposing has already been passed by the Board of the Aldermen and the city’s Traffic Commission.

“I believe this proposal is a major benefit for both businesses and customers,” Dolan said. “By ensuring the closest parking spots in our municipal parking lots are being utilized by customers, it will absolutely have a positive effect on an already thriving downtown.”

The program is as follows:

• Allow employees to park in certain designated locations at no cost.

• Sticker-based permit; employee must present proof of employment.

• New signage will be installed designating 170 spaces for employees. There will be 50 spaces on Berwick Street, 60 behind City Hall, 16 behind Papa Gino’s, 34 in the Larrabee lot behind Giacomo’s and 10 spaces at the old Caruso restaurant block.

The plan does include an allowance for business employees to park close to the front doors, at a price.

An alternative parking pass will allow employees to park in any lot at any time would be sold at a cost of $600 a year and capped at 35 permits.

In 2012, Dolan continued, the city completed a parking study of the downtown and adjacent parking lots.

The study concluded that downtown Melrose has ample supply of parking, but that the management of available public parking should be adjusted to ensure availability for customers. Since that time the city has implemented several to improve the situation, including: changing parking limits from two to three hours to encourage shoppers downtown, eliminating inconsistent signage, improving signage and the purchase of 1 Kimball Ct. to create 25 new parking spaces.

Enforcement begins in January.

Dolan thanked his Parking Working group for doing much of the heavy lifting to made the initiative a reality. Members were Alison Socha, Joan Cassidy, Joan Ford Mongeau, Chris Cinella, Joe Turner, Kevin DeVinney, Steve Trulli and various representatives from the DPW, Police Department, Mayor’s Office and the Officer of Planning and Community Development.