I know you were alarmed, when you got the news, but I’m here to put your mind at ease.
There is hope. There is a way forward. Do not despair.
Life as we know it on the North Shore is not at an end, and Ipswich residents in particular — even though they may be feeling hopeless at the moment — actually still have a future.
I’m talking about the new rules handed down by the Ipswich Select Board about parking in the Town of Ipswich.
You will survive, I’m sure; but your future will need to be adjusted on two significant fronts.
#1: At the Ipswich MBTA lot, parking will now be available 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for Ipswich residents only.
You Ipswich folks think this is good news? I’m afraid not. This means war. Or it could. Let me explain.
The Ipswich train station parking lot is not your ordinary parking lot. It is one of the very few Town-owned commuter rail parking lot in the MBTA system. Most North Shore train station parking lots are owned by the MBTA. But in Ipswich, the lot is owned and operated by the Town.
So the fact that anybody and everybody has been free to park in the Ipswich train station lot free of charge all these years is only due to the largesse — let’s not call it negligence, let’s call it generosity — of the Town of Ipswich.
While the MBTA has charged for parking in other towns — as much as $4 per weekday (Newburyport, Hamilton) or $2 per weekday (in Rowley) — Ipswich has continued to give away its prime parking real estate.
Since as many as 30 of the 100 Ipswich station parking spaces have typically been taken by non-Ipswich residents each weekday, it appears that the new rules will help Ipswich folks enormously.
Unfortunately, however, this also brings us to the very real possibility of neighboring towns responding with “revenge rules” (kind of like other countries introducing anti-American tariffs because our President introduced anti-other-country tariffs).
So what happens if Rowley, for example, starts charging Ipswich residents $4 to park at Market Basket? If you’re only dropping in to buy a bag of ice and a can of sardines, your grocery bill just tripled. If Boxford sets up toll booths and makes me pay a dollar just to get over to Georgetown, I’m gonna run up quite a bill.
But the Ipswich train station parking lot is the not the only site affected by the rules newly handed down by the Ipswich Select Board.
Here’s #2: A “two-hour parking restriction” beside the bank on Depot Square.
I’m uneasy about being forced to park for a minimum of two hours, aren’t you?
I don’t think I’ve misunderstood this. As TheLocalNe.ws report confirms, two-hour parking is being enforced.
Look at how this is going to impact your daily life. Let’s say you want a lox and bagel at Jettie’s. You find a prime parking space across the street — beside the bank, on Depot Square. You go in, you order, you chat with some friends, you get your food, you eat, enjoy your coffee, chat with some more friends — but then you’re done, right? It’s maybe 45 minutes, max. There’s no way you can spend two hours at Jettie’s. (If you spend two hours at Jettie’s, you’re using it as an office, and you ought to be down Market Street at Gathr. Come on. Stop taking unfair advantage of a bagel place.)
But as I understand the Ipswich Select Board, if you don’t spend two hours at Jettie’s, as you drive away you’ll be pulled over by the Ipswich police.
I’m telling you, this is serious. Minimum-parking-time rules are a slippery slope. What’s next? Minimum-spending rules? You park on the south side of Depot Square in Ipswich, you have to spend at least $20 in Market Street businesses or go to prison.
And if Ipswich enforces this two-hour parking rule, how could you blame Rowley for exacting revenge by requiring you to spend at least two hours parked at Market Basket? I happen to see a lot of my friends at Market Basket, but I don’t think even a social animal like me could do two hours. Under such an oppressive law, I would have to leave my car at Market Basket and hike to the bar at Spud’s. Depending on the time of day, who knows what a disaster this could turn out to be?
I’m afraid we’re at a fragile moment in North Shore history. I pray that cooler heads will prevail. I pray that surrounding towns will not pass revenge laws against Ipswich. I pray that I will be able to park at Market Basket free of charge, and leave whenever I want.