Oak Bluffs committee exploring downtown paid parking 

Ocean Park. — MV Times

Oak Bluffs financial advisers are exploring the possibility of adding paid parking through a mobile-based phone app in the downtown area as they look at different ways of generating revenue for the town.

Members of the Oak Bluffs Finance and Advisory Committee say the parking spots could generate just shy of a half million dollars during the summer season by charging $2.50 an hour for over 300 parking spaces they’ve identified in the area; they say that’s with little upfront costs.

“We would be remiss to not consider this, because it’s a huge revenue generator for the town,” advisory committee chair Sherry Countryman said. 

The FinCom hasn’t officially recommended the idea, but committee members pitched it as a possibility during a joint meeting with the town’s select board last week. It’s part of their work to set goals for the year.

FinCom member Bob Malecki said he performed an informal “walking census” around the downtown area when looking into the parking suggestion. He identified close to 350 spaces the town could charge for parking through an app during the summer months. Those would be near Ocean Park, Circuit Avenue, and near Oak Bluffs Harbor. Malecki said that could be extended to town beaches.

Malecki said that there would be very little upfront costs on the idea, aside from signs advising customers about the app. The mobile-based app could charge people when they haven’t paid for additional time.

Malecki said that the Town of Tisbury has developed an app for their parking meters and says that it’s been working great. 

There was some hesitation from some town officials at Thursday’s meeting. Town administrator Deborah Potter said that a comprehensive review of the parking would be required before making any changes. She said that parking is already limited for employees of local businesses. Potter recommended that the town’s Roads and Byways Committee be included in any discussions about the paid parking. Some FinCom members had expressed hesitation getting the advisory committee involved, noting that they meet infrequently.

Others present Thursday recommended that veterans, seniors, and residents be exempt from any chargers if the select board does pursue the proposal.

FinCom chair Sherry Countryman said that idea is not a recommendation at this point, but the committee wanted to pitch the proposal to the select board as a potential revenue generator.

The committee is also exploring consolidating some town departments, like staff at the library and the Council on Aging. Countryman also said that they are looking into charging a 3 percent community impact fee on short term rentals like AirBnBs.


  1. Perhaps if there were stickers available for (year-round?) residents at a reasonable cost, this might be a good idea. If other towns had the same idea, even better, since this is likely not going to go well with either shoppers or merchants if we were the only town doing it. I agree that parking is atrocious year-round now and I hope the parking officers will be more attendant this year and get the people who park all day off Circuit Avenue.

    • If this is put in place I see no reason to exempt residents. If it’s a good idea, then it should apply to everyone. I suppose an alternate argument could be made for exempting only property tax paying homeowners, regardless of their residency status, since the additional funds would only serve to reduce the mill rate. Regardless of that discussion, this is a bad idea, since it will only serve to push additional parking activity out into the already congested residential streets around the business district.

    • People who are lucky enough to able to be on the Island year around should pay less?

  2. It’s hard enough to find parking. Now we are going to get charged to park way out of town.
    Just another fee the Islanders want to stick it to the seasonal residents and renters.
    This will keep me from coming to OB for any reason except an emergency.
    Put that in your town coffers and smoke it!

    • No problem, MIke– I hope you don’t have many emergencies. They are quite stressful.
      Best wishes

    • The idea is to make parking easier to find.
      Charging for parking makes parking eaiser to find.

  3. Let’s state the obvious. This is a bad idea whose time has come because. Oak Bluffs does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem!

  4. Businesses are and have been suffering Island-wide because of what I would call poor infrastructure planning, but Hey … why not charge for what limited parking there is. However, I would suggest we only implement it during the high season, to milk the tourists even more and possibly dissuade them from choosing our Island as a summer destination, not to mention any hope of a business existing more than the three-year average life expectancy.

  5. You have GOT to be Kidding!!!!!!!!! Give Us ‘Winter people’ a BREAK!!! Gee, maybe those of us who live in Oak Bluffs and pay taxes here should be given the opportunity to Vote on this!!!! – on a ballot – not in a town meeting, where our votes have been known to be ignored – at times!

    • At town meeting, when you vote against an item that wins your vote is ignored.
      Same thing happens on a ballot?
      At which Town Meeting was your vote ignored?

  6. This is a terrible president and idea, Unfriendly and not cost efficient. Oak Bluffs needs to live within it’s means and not spend so much money.

    • Most of the world charges for parking in high density commerical areas.
      The major reason is to discourage all day parking.
      Stores need turnover.
      Every dime of parking is a dime less in real estate taxes.

  7. Fantastic, next we can charge folks for using the bathrooms. $1 for number one $2 for number two

    • We have been charging for bathroom use for well over a century.
      You must be new here.
      You don’t remember the pay toilets at the Oak Bluffs beach?
      Pee and poop costs money to get rid of.
      Just like all the other waste.

  8. Just another tax. Let’s count up the new, and not so new, taxes: Land bank tax, Rental tax, Housing tax (coming soon), Income tax, Port tax on SSA tix, pay parking at the park and ride if over 3 days, just to name a few. A great many of us have to pay for parking in Falmouth and those rates keep going up, that just hurts the islanders who are trying to make a living here. Now you want a parking tax? I still want to know what the towns are doing with this new found rental tax income? Can the towns just get out of our pockets? At every town meeting the select boards ask for overrides to pay for things they didn’t budget or plan for. This is a bad idea, don’t do it.

    • No, your don’t have to pay to park in Falmouth. You choose to pay to park in Falmouth. Land bank tax, I’m ok with that. Housing Bank tax, not so much. Rental tax, why shouldn’t people who choose to rent properties nightly or weekly as a straight money maker not pay taxes? Income tax, you’re kidding right. As for the park and ride after 3 days, leave your car at home and take a cab or the VTA. And for the record, I am against paid parking.

      • You missed my point about Falmouth Parking, why do they keep increasing the LTP at Palmer Lot when that only hurts islanders? We have profiles with the SSA proving island residency, why don’t they at least try to help by not annually increasing their fees. They are supposed to be the lifeline for the island. I guess, that is only if they can make more money off us.

        My point was, which you missed, today it is paid parking tax, yesterday it was housing tax, tomorrow it will be something else. We pay enough taxes, towns need to plan and budget better, work within their budgets, and get out of our pocket with all these override warrant articles. This is just the select board’s way of saying, you made the choice. The cowards way of not being able to say no.

        • No, I got your point. And again, I don’t agree with paid parking. I think it is foolish idea and will draw people healthy enough to walk further out of town and the will walk in. The elderly or people with medical issues will start shopping in other towns. And what will this do to Reliable? A good number of their customers are they island elderly who have been shopping there for 50 years or more. Then town is going to ask them to pony up to park and go grocery shopping?
          All I was doing was pointing out, that yeah, they keep upping prices, but there are ways around them.

      • Jim are you opposed to paid parking at the SSA?
        Logan Airport?
        Are you opposed to all use taxes?
        Real estate taxes are use taxes.
        You pay to use town services.

    • Patrick, if people like you would stand up and lead we would have low taxes and free parking.

    • What is your guess as to the percentage of drivers without smart phones?
      Are there any significant digits in front of decimal point?
      It’s 2023.
      Smart phones are now used for identification.
      Get use to it or not function.

  9. Difficult enough to find parking on OB and then you want to charge $2.50 an hour!!! Come on, OB “leaders”, find another way to balance the budget.

    • At $2.50 an hour parking will be easy to find.
      Wait staff, store clerks, managers and owners will make other arrangements.

  10. Is it wrong for the SSA to charge for parking?
    Should the parking be free and the tickets cost more.

    I would rather pay for parking than more real estate taxes.

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