As the town grew, the needs for more parking became critical. Parking lots were added on Manning Street and Wall Street; despite this the customers and merchants said there still wasn’t enough parking. To encourage parking turn-over the selectmen in 1971 cut the maximum parking time to 60 minutes and then 30 minutes in 1972. This was brought about because the Plaza Cinema was showing X-rated movies and “outsiders” were flocking to Derry and taking every available parking space. The standard fine for parking violations was raised from 50 cents to $2.00. The problem was rectified the next year when the theater owner was arrested on obscenity charges.
The biggest threat to Broadway remaining Derry’s commercial center occurred during the 1960’s. when the five-and-dime store burnt down and the A&P and the First National Stores moved off Broadway to areas with big parking lots. And more importantly, the Hood Plaza with its acres of free parking opened in 1968. The remaining Broadway merchants now began to have fewer and fewer customers. It was soon proposed that making parking free on Broadway would bring many customers back from the malls. The town meeting in March 1973 voted to eliminate all of the town’s parking meters. In April, Police Chief Ed Garone asked and was granted permission by the selectmen to use town money to behead the meters. After only 26 years, the parking-meter era in Derry was over.
Rick Holmes is the official town historian of Derry. His office hours at the Municipal Center are Mondays from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. Several of his books on local history are available at Mack’s Apples and Derry’s libraries.