Hull Redevelopment Authority Chair Bartley Kelly went before the Select Board this week to ask for an increase in the number of parking spaces the HRA is allowed to include in its upcoming Request for Proposals for potential bidders to operate the HRA lots for the 2022 peak season, but the board did not grant his request.
In a memorandum dated Dec. 22, Town Manager Philip Lemnios outlined the board-approved parking protocol for May to October 2022, which allows a total of 500 parking spots for paid parking along with special accommodations for residents.
The total number of available spaces is roughly 1,000, but out of consideration for quality of life issues affecting residents due in large part to traffic congestion, the board reduced the total number that can be used a couple of years ago — first to 600 and later to 500.
Kelly asked that the maximum of 100 non-resident spaces in the lot bounded by Phipps Street near the war memorial be increased to 200, that the maximum of 400 cars in the first HRA parking area along Hull Shore Drive Extension by the hotel and other businesses be reduced to 300, and that 50 spaces be added to the 50 already allowed in the Water Street lot, for a total of 550 spaces.
“Phipps Street is the nicest part of the beach, with the best access for people who have [mobility issues],” and the close proximity to a comfort station, he said. “If the HRA gets the property developed as planned, we won’t be having this discussion three or four years down the road. That’s the ultimate goal.”
The Phipps Street lot is available to resident vehicles with a resident permit. These vehicles are not part of the 100-vehicle limit.
The triangle-shaped Water Street lot is reserved exclusively for Hull residents with a resident permit but is open to the public after 5 p.m.
Select Board member Domenico Sestito opposed adding even 50 more spaces because he feels it’s important to stick with the parking protocols that took a lengthy time to develop.
“I think the quality of life is improving after a great deal of effort,” he said. “I don’t want to start trending in the other direction.”
The parking protocol also requires that the lots closest to the hotel be filled first before opening the Phipps Street lot for general use. The two exceptions are vehicles with handicap placards or license plates – which are allowed to park in the Phipps Street lot at any time – and that any resident with a town parking permit has access to the Phipps Street lot without having to wait for the southern lot by the hotel to fill first.
Police details will be present every Saturday and Sunday, excluding inclement weather, and additional days as determined by the police chief or designee based upon their best judgment. Detail officers will be posted at the Nantasket and Phipps Street intersection.
The Hull Police will be performing random checks on all parking lot operators in town for compliance with their license agreements. “Permit holders will be required to acknowledge and accept that failure to strictly adhere to these permit requirements will lead to immediate forfeiture of the permit, with no right of appeal,” Lemnios stated in the memo.
Kelly also asked that the hours of operation for the lots be extended from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. After a lengthy discussion, Select Board member John Reilly made a motion to change the hours as requested by Kelly and to require police details until 6 p.m. or longer if needed, during especially busy times. The motion was seconded and passed on a 3 to 1 vote, with Domenico Sestito voting against. Donna Pursel was not present.
“We need to be concerned about the [quality of life] of residents who are paying property taxes,” Reilly said. “Hull is an expensive place to live.”
While understanding what the HRA was seeking additional parking, he said, many people come to the beach and leave without patronizing local restaurants and businesses.
Chair Jennifer Constable then made a motion to increase the Phipps Street maximum from 100 to 150, with cars parking on the south end of the lot first, and to allow up to 200 cars on the weekends when carnivals are planned. That motion was not seconded.
Hull Police Chief John Dunn said the new parking protocols and the institution of higher fines for cars parked in no parking zones that were developed during COVID and continue to be in place – including townwide parking restrictions for non-residents and an increase in parking tickets from $40 to $100 – have worked well.
Kelly noted that the higher parking ticket fees have helped to reduce illegal parking.
“A carload of people used to [risk] a $40 ticket,” he said, but those numbers have dropped with the higher fee.
The COVID19 pandemic and last year’s rainy season worked in favor of lessening the volume of traffic, Dunn said, but beyond those factors, he said, “I think we’ve found the solution. The plan set forth by Phil is good and fair.”