, Derry, New Hampshire


January 30, 2014

Column: In Derry, parking meters' time has expired


The selectmen soon entered into an agreement with the Park-O-Meter company but immediately a Nashua law firm told the selectmen that the contract was illegal. A lawsuit was being threatened by Benjamin C. Adams, the author of the town manager article. Ben’s argument was that the voters had ordered the hiring of a town manager and only he or she could sign a contract for parking meters. The selectmen countered that the town meeting hadn’t voted any money to pay for a town manager so they couldn’t hire one. Many locals suspected that the purpose of the lawsuit was to force the anti-manager board of selectmen into hiring a town manager because Adams believed the selectmen were counting on the revenue from the meters to “balance the budget of the police department.” In time, Adams dropped his suit after the selectmen gave in and hired a town manager. Soon, there were nearly 200 meters scattered throughout the area.

In 1947, the parking meters charged a penny for 10 minutes and a nickel for an hour’s parking. During the first eight days the meters collected $254. That year, the average haul was $200 a week. About half the money went to pay for the meters, $50 went to the police department and $45 paid for a patrolman to monitor parking and collect meter money. There was free parking on Thursday afternoons and Sundays when most stores were closed. Parking at the meters was limited to a maximum of two hours.

I don’t know if the parking meters did help the parking situation but I do know they once did a really good and rather clever thing. In 1950, the March of Dimes told local donors to put their dimes into the parking meters. Even though the meters only accepted pennies and nickels, the dimes would “pass safely” through the meters. The town had agreed to turn over any dimes found in the meters to the charity. Cool, eh?

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