The Dover Parking Commission is split on whether to recommend a new fee structure for the transportation center's parking lot to the City Council, citing the need for a simpler system.
Parking Director Bill Simons has proposed a fee structure at the lot, adjacent to the train station, which would implement a 25 cents per hour rate, with an option for frequent commuters to purchase a $15 monthly permit.
Members of the Parking Commission debated the merits of that proposal, but ultimately felt the new fees could deter potential commuters. Commission members, including Chair Charles Reynolds, felt that providing free spaces for frequent commuters would be more equitable, with the remaining fees provided by others using the lot.
According to Simons, however, separating those two user groups would prove difficult, although he said providing free parking only for those purchasing monthly train or bus passes would be more feasible.
The City Council tabled a vote on the fee structure last week, requesting further input and a recommendation on the matter from the Parking Commission, with the suggestion that Simons and the commission look into options for removing fees for commuters.
Simons said he has had extensive conversations on the topic, with the easiest option being to track monthly pass-holders and provide them with free parking, but extending those benefits to part-time commuters is where the complications begin. The city now controls the lot, which has more than 400 spaces, and the proposed fees are meant to help with maintenance and control. It is currently free to park at the transportation center. Because of this, Simons said one problem is cars left for several days at a time. In addition to the $15,000 public works budget that covers some lot maintenance, the city now has to account for an additional $6,000-$7,000.
"Before we agree to something, we need to make sure we have figured out all these ifs," Reynolds said. "We need to resolve it before, how we're going to manage this."
Reynolds said it was important to give an incentive to use public transportation, and to keep any fee structure as simple as possible. Simons said the maximum daily fee for parking would be $2.50. For Simons, any new fees are about balancing the city's costs with commuter needs.
"We shouldn't be in the business of complicating people's lives," Reynolds said. "If we can come up with a simple system that will work, OK."
Mayor Karen Weston was in attendance to listen to the commission's discussion, and said she hoped to get additional feedback from both Simons and the commission before the council votes on the matter, most likely in March.
Copyright 2014 - Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.