New Bedford City Council Committee Will Hear Concerns About Noah’s Place Parking Fees
Area residents will have a chance to sound off about the planned implementation of a controversial paid parking policy for Marine Park, the site of the Pope’s Island Marina, and Noah’s Place, a handicapped-accessible playground.
The New Bedford City Council Committee on Properties will hear from parents and others during the committee's April 11 meeting.
The parking policy was recently approved by an unanimous vote of the New Bedford Board of Park Commissioners.
Committee Chair and Ward 2 Councilor Maria Giesta said those who sign up will have three minutes to address the panel.
"I am always willing to listen to people regarding any issue that's important to them or their community," she said.
Giesta said she "absolutely" believes the implementation of the fee should be rescinded.
New Bedford City Council President Ian Abreu said Mayor Jon Mitchell should "execute an executive order" suspending implementation of the fee, set to take effect in two weeks, "so we can press the reset button, calm everyone down, and find a palatable solution."
In his weekly appearance on WBSM Wednesday, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell defended the parking plan saying is not intended to negatively affect families with disabled children using the playground, but rather to preserve space for them.
Veteran Councilor Brian Gomes said Mitchell "should have already been a leader and stood up and stopped this whole process until all parties can get together and come up with the best parking scenario without fees for all."
Ward 6 Councilor Ryan Pereira said he "asked the (park) board to table this item, talk about it, and come up with a plan to deal with these issues." Pereira, who is also calling on Mitchell to freeze the implementation of the fee, said his request was ignored.
Pereira and Ward 4 Councilor Derek Baptiste, in whose district the playground is located, have sent a letter to the park board asking for the pay-to-park program to be rescinded, and said they will be present at the park board's next meeting to discuss.
New Bedford resident Victoria Hanson, who frequents Noah's Place with her autistic son, has collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition asking the park board to reverse its decision. Hanson and others plan to bring their case before the council's Committee on Properties on April 11.
"Children should not be subjected to suffering the consequences of a parent or guardian not being able to afford to pay to bring them to a park that was made to be free," she said.
Steve Miller has printed signs critical of Mitchell and Park Board members for those who attend the meeting to hold in protest of the fees.
The Committee on Property meets on April 11, 2022, at 7 p.m. at the city council chambers in New Bedford City Hall. The next park board meeting is scheduled for April 27, 2022, at 6 p.m. at the Buttonwood Park Warming House.