The 35-car lot at the corner of routes 28 and 133 remains empty most days, as commuters and employees of nearby businesses still have the option to park free all day along the residential roads not far away.

At least for now.

Andover police plan a series of meetings this month with residents to better determine the effects of installing the pay-and-display parking machine at the lot during the last month and a half.

The pay-and-display system installed July 24 in Shawsheen Square has driven vehicles out of the town-operated lot and onto surrounding side streets in the immediate area.

Lt. Jim Hashem believes the meetings with residents will lead police to enforce parking time limits, such as four-hour parking, on residential streets including Balmoral Street and Riverina Road.

While the Shawsheen Square lot is underused, Hashem defended the pay-and-display system. Two similar machines are used in the Olde Andover Village parking lot off Main Street downtown.

"I think the talk around the town is nobody likes paying for parking," said Hashem. "That's really what it comes down to.

"The system itself works," he said of pay-and-display. "That one lot, Shawsheen, is currently a work in progress. I don't think it's fair to say after a month, 'There's no cars down there, the system failed.' I don't think that's a fair assessment."

If a manufacturer's deadline had not forced the installation of the pay-and-display machine in Shawsheen Square this summer, Hashem said police would have suggested changing the parking regulations on the side streets beforehand.

"People are going elsewhere. It's caused some complaints, some headaches, but we're addressing it," said Hashem. "We're talking about restrictions, whether it be three-, four-, five-hour parking, that kind of thing."

Under the pay-and-display system, drivers must pay 25 cents an hour in the Shawsheen Square and Olde Andover Village lots. In Shawsheen Square, people pay to park between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, but parking is free after that time and during the weekends. Before the machine was installed July 24, parking was free.

"Most people parking up there were employees in the area," said Chris Gravell, owner of Andover Hockey Shop in Shawsheen Square. "People come in and say it's tough to park. People do say they get aggravated."

Michael Helman, owner of neighboring Shawsheen Village Liquors, said the town lot emptied immediately once the pay-and-display machine was installed.

"It's still empty, nothing different," said Helman. "I do get comments from neighbors about the number of cars that are parked in front of their houses. This part of Andover always has a parking issue."

According to Hashem, the pay-and-display machine in Shawsheen Square was purchased using parking receipt money transferred at 2006 Town Meeting.

Town officials also had planned to transfer $40,000 more from parking payments to buy and install two similar pay-and-display machines for the lot behind Old Town Hall.

"There wasn't enough money in the parking receipt account," Hashem said. "That's a budgeting consideration the town makes. That revenue and that funding stream isn't controlled by the Police Department."

Hashem believes the Shawsheen Square lot will be used once parking time limits are enforced on side streets.

"Everything changes. I'm sure it will be a much bigger difference there once we get a parking plan in place," he said.

Noting there are two-hour limits on parking on portions of Poor Street, Helman said, "The signs will only be as good as they're enforced. But they could put people into the parking lot if they regulate the streets around it."



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