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30-minute parking limit remains in place on Main Street Newmarket
Aug. 13, 2021

The 30-minute parking limit implemented on downtown Newmarket’s Main Street during lockdown could be here to stay.

Newmarket Main Street District BIA chair Tom Hempen said recent polling indicates a strong majority of Main Street businesses are behind keeping it as-is. The town reduced the parking from two hours to 30 minutes May 9, 2020 via emergency order, on Main Street between Water Street and Davis Drive, to assist businesses with takeout curbside pickup during lockdowns.

But even with public health restrictions lifting this summer, Hempen said businesses are still seeing benefits.

“This just allows convenience for the customers and keeps the spots rotating,” he said. “We can see the street is becoming more vibrant. More people are coming down and enjoying our street.”

Newmarket lifted its state of emergency Aug. 9, but that did not change the parking order, which was made permanent at a committee of the whole meeting in 2020.

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor said the town will work with the BIA board and monitor the needs of Main Street businesses. However, he said on Facebook that he thinks the lower time limit is working well, though suggested higher limits of 45 minutes to one hour.

“If you are going to be two hours, you just need to walk a hundred feet from one of the many spots on both sides of the street,” Taylor said.

Taylor noted there are hundreds of municipal parking spots are available in the downtown area, such as Riverwalk Commons, and said it is more than most downtown areas offer.

Still, Hempen said town facilities need more parking to support the downtown in the long term. The municipality has explored finding more public parking at a number of locations given the demand.

“We’re looking forward to working with the town to see additional parking to the downtown to accommodate the high demand,” Hempen said.

The 30-minute parking limit was made with restaurants in mind, with restrictions forcing them to do takeout only. Although people can now dine indoors, Hempen said he has not heard from any restaurants taking issue with the time limit.

“It’s still convenient for people wanting to do that takeout,” Hempen said.

He said he expects the town will likely support what the majority of Main Street businesses want. But he added the BIA will look at the issue again as time goes by.

“Parking will always be a hot topic,” Taylor said. “But keep in mind that if our downtown parking lots are busy, that is because our downtown is thriving.”