Free Parking

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Thank heaven we live in Ipswich. Parking is free. We even have a sprawling parking lot on Hammatt Street. Maybe you didn’t know it was there, since there are no signs on Central or Market pointing you to it. Or maybe you knew it was there, but you thought it wasn’t for you. Let me help.

To make your Ipswich parking experience as carefree as possible, “The Outsidah” will now take you on a brief tour of the Hammatt Street parking lot. This will really be very simple.

1.     Look for the conventional “P” sign, indicating “Parking.” Our “P” is on a telephone pole, which also sports signs which say BROWN SQ and STOP. Ignore these signs. You are only interested in the “P” sign.

2.     The most obvious place to turn in to the Hammatt Street parking lot is across from Lake Legal. See the sign that says LAKE LEGAL LLC? Turn east. Now you’re on the Hammatt Street parking lot.

3.     The first sign you come to on the parking lot says: “FIRST Ipswich BANK EMPLOYEE PARKING Weekdays 8 AM to 5 PM FRIENDS & CUSTOMERS PARKING Evening & Weekends.” Ignore this sign. Continue driving into the parking area.

4.     The next sign you come to says: “FIRST Ipswich BANK PARKING FOR BANK EMPLOYEES ONLY Violators will be Towed at the Vehicle Owners Expense M.G.L. 266S.120A,D.” If you find that you are too intimidated by this sign to park your vehicle here, back out onto Hammatt Street and proceed to the next parking lot entrance.

5.     The next entrance offers an even warmer welcome. The sign says: “Welcome to the Hammatt Street Parking Lot A jointly owned lot with municipal parking spaces designated in BLUE for public use. Privately Owned Spaces Have Additional Signage. RULES AND REGULATIONS * Please Park in Designated Spaces * Short-term parking ONLY in Non-Designated YELLOW Coded Areas * Handicapped Spaces by Permit Only * Overnight Parking by Permit Only Permits Issued by Ipswich DPW * Abandoned Vehicles Will Be Towed CLEANING/SNOW REMOVAL Cleaning Regulations effective from April 15 through November 15. Snow Removal Regulations effective from November 15 through April 15. Regulations Available from Ipswich Police & DPW.” (No, I am not making this up.)

If you are uneasy about parking here because the signage is a little overwhelming, I understand. It was a little overwhelming to me too, until I got my degree. But if we simply drive the circumference of the entire parking lot, observing the various parking-related signs, we can see clearly how simple it will be for us to park our vehicle freely just about anywhere we want to park it. Turning to our left, and making our way around the edge of the entire paved area, here’s what we find:

6.     “Parking For Super Subs” (arrow to the right). Not sure exactly where they mean, but don’t park someplace close to their sign, and you’ll probably be OK.

7.     “TD Bank R ERVED ANK USTOMER.” This sign, overgrown by foliage, is probably historical. Ignore it.

8.     A series of seemingly open parking spaces are barred by yellow stamps: “PRIVATE MSP.” MSP means Minneapolis-St. Paul. Obviously a mistake. Ignore this sign.

9.     Then there is a sign partially torn down, which says: “NO PARKING UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE (big blank space) AT VEHICLE OWNER’S EXPENSE.” (What will they do to those poor vehicles?) Since somebody tried to tear this sign down, ignore it.

10.  Then there are the sadly conventional “PARKING FOR RESIDENTS & CUSTOMERS OF 15 MARKET STREET ONLY ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOWED AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE” and “15 MARKET STREET CUSTOMER PARKING ONLY NO OVERNIGHT PARKING” and “PERMIT PARKING ONLY 9:30PM through 8:30AM VIOLATORS TOWED AT OWNERS EXPENSE.” These signs are somewhat rude, don’t you think? Ignore them.

11.  Then there’s a good old-fashioned “NO PARKING” sign. Ignore this sign. Of course there’s parking. It’s a parking lot.

See? The Hammatt Street parking lot is here for you.

 

(Actually, what you’ve just read is only the print-edition version of this column. The original, more detailed column appears immediately below. Which do you prefer?)

 

Thank heaven I don’t live in Beverly. I attend a monthly meeting on Rantoul Street, and I always forget to bring quarters for the parking meter. To find a parking space without a meter, I have to drive halfway back to Wenham, then hike to the meeting.

Thank heaven I don’t live in Newburyport. In their huge downtown parking area, which used to be free, you have to park your car, get out of your car, close the car door, walk to a kiosk, pay the parking fee, collect your sticker, walk back to your car, open the door, stick the sticker on your windshield, close the door again — by which time you’re too weary to shop.

Thank heaven we live in Ipswich. If you want to park downtown, to shop at any of our fine downtown stores, or eat in any of our fine downtown dineries, you have multitudinous free-parking options. The parking is free on Central Street, on South Main, on Market Street, on Depot Square, and on Hammatt Street.

But best of all, we have a sprawling rectangle of parking available on Hammatt, behind the stores on the south side of Central, behind the shops on the west side of Market. If you find yourself between Ithaki’s awesome upscale dining location and the Ipswich Sports Bar’s not-upscale-but-also-awesome dining location — you can point your vehicle north and within ten seconds you will come to the Hammatt Street parking lot, on your right. There is no signage on Central or Market to indicate that you can park here, but please, take it from me, “The Outsidah.” I have checked this out.

Welcome.

We’re glad you’re here.

Thank you for coming to Ipswich.

We’re grateful that you’ve decided to spend your disposable income in our town.

Parking is free! This isn’t Newburyport. This isn’t Salem. This isn’t even Peabody. This is Ipswich. Park wherever you like.

To make your parking experience as carefree as possible, please allow “The Outsidah” to take you on a brief tour of the Hammatt Street parking lot. This will really be very simple.

1.     Look for the conventional “P” sign, indicating “Parking.” Our “P” is on a telephone pole, which also sports signs which say BROWN SQ and STOP. If you go to the west, you come to the Ipswich Ale brewery. If you have a designated driver, go ahead and turn to the west. Otherwise, turn east.

2.     The most obvious place to turn in to the Hammatt Street parking lot is across from Lake Legal. The sign says LAKE LEGAL LLC sign. Turn east.

3.     The first sign you come to says: “FIRST Ipswich BANK EMPLOYEE PARKING Weekdays 8 AM to 5 PM FRIENDS & CUSTOMERS PARKING Evening & Weekends.” Ignore this sign. Continue driving into the parking area.

4.     The next sign you come to says: “FIRST Ipswich BANK PARKING FOR BANK EMPLOYEES ONLY Violators will be Towed at the Vehicle Owners Expense M.G.L. 266S.120A,D.” If you find that you are too intimidated by this sign to park your vehicle here, back out onto Hammatt Street and proceed to the next parking lot entrance.

5.     The next entrance is even simpler. You will find a warm welcome here. The sign says: “Welcome to the Hammatt Street Parking Lot A jointly owned lot with municipal parking spaces designated in BLUE for public use. Privately Owned Spaces Have Additional Signage. RULES AND REGULATIONS * Please Park in Designated Spaces * Short-term parking ONLY in Non-Designated YELLOW Coded Areas * Handicapped Spaces by Permit Only * Overnight Parking by Permit Only Permits Issued by Ipswich DPW * Abandoned Vehicles Will Be Towed CLEANING/SNOW REMOVAL Cleaning Regulations effective from April 15 through November 15. Snow Removal Regulations effective from November 15 through April 15. Regulations Available from Ipswich Police & DPW.”

If you are uneasy about parking here because the signage is a little overwhelming, I understand. It was a little overwhelming to me too, until I got my degree. But a quick tour of the Hammatt Street parking area will help to ease your fears. If we simply drive the circumference of the entire parking lot, we can observe the various parking-related signs, and we can see clearly how simple it will be for us to park our vehicle freely just about anywhere we want to park it. Turning to our left, and making our way around the edge of the entire paved area, here’s what we find:

6.     “Parking For Super Subs” (arrow to the right). Not sure exactly where they mean, but don’t park someplace close to their sign, and you’ll probably be OK.

7.     “TD Bank R ERVED ANK USTOMER.” This sign, overgrown by foliage, is probably historical. Ignore it.

8.     A series of seemingly open parking spaces are barred by yellow stamps: “PRIVATE MSP.” Park here? Don’t park here? Not sure.

9.     Two HILTZ RECYCLING dumpsters say: “DO NOT PARK.” I think this means “Do not park in front of these dumpsters.”

10.  A sign on the back of a building says: “TENANT PARKING ONLY VIOLATORS WILL BE TOWED AT OWNERS EXPENSE.” The realty named at the bottom of the sign doesn’t even show up on a Google search.

11.  Next there’s a dumpster that says: “JRM Hauling & Recycling DO NOT PARK.”

12.  Next there’s a dumpster that says: “TRASH ONLY G. MELLO DISPOSAL CORP. DO NOT PARK OR BLOCK.”

13.  Then there are a few signs that say: “PARKING For: Tenants of 7-9 Market St. ONLY,” followed by a sign it seems somebody tried to tear down, which says: “NO PARKING UNAUTHORIZED VEHICLES WILL BE (and then there’s a big blank space) AT VEHICLE OWNER’S EXPENSE.” What will they do to those poor vehicles?

14.  Then there are the sadly conventional “PARKING FOR RESIDENTS & CUSTOMERS OF 15 MARKET STREET ONLY ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOWED AT THEIR OWN EXPENSE” and “15 MARKET STREET CUSTOMER PARKING ONLY NO OVERNIGHT PARKING” and “PERMIT PARKING ONLY 9:30PM through 8:30AM VIOLATORS TOWED AT OWNERS EXPENSE.”

15.  Then there’s a good old-fashioned “NO PARKING.”

16.  Finally! We found a series of open parking spaces! But — sorry — the message painted in yellow on the edge of this section of the parking lot is (I kid you not): NO PARKING.

17.  Continuing our tour of the Hammatt Street parking lot brings us to a black dumpster which says DO NOT PARK.

18.  Then there’s a red garage door with an orange NO PARKING sign.

19.  Then there’s a black plastic dumpster that says, very plainly, DO NOT PARK IN FRONT OF CONTAINER.

20.  Then there’s a delicious space behind the Ipswich Sports Bar that’s perfect for parking, and not a single sign telling you not to.

21.  And finally, there’s a beautiful old seemingly abandoned red brick building on Hammatt, with a great big number 18 on it, and not a single DO NOT PARK or NO PARKING or PRIVATE or any other scary sign.

Thank heaven we live in Ipswich. Parking is free.

 

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