ON THE HOOK: Tow truckers mean business

NASHUA – Leaving a vehicle in an unauthorized parking space for even a few minutes in downtown Nashua can result in a motorist hitchhiking to Massachusetts to retrieve his or her wheels.

And he or she better hope they have about $300 cash with them because some of the towing companies don’t take debit or credit.

Acknowledging these aggressive tow truckers, whom some refer to as “bird-doggers,” city officials are responding to the confusion, frustration and outcry.

One of the lots generating numerous complaints is the private lot on Pearson Avenue. As a way to deter motorists from parking in the lot, city officials have ordered signs they hope will effectively designate where the public lot ends and the private parking begins.

Nashua Division of Public Works spokeswoman Lauren Byers said installing these signs will, hopefully, clarify where visitors to downtown can and cannot park. Byers said the division is well aware of the calls Mayor Jim Donchess and other officials are receiving regarding these matters.

Employees with DPW are going to install two permanent

signs, each measuring 2 feet by 4 feet, which will read “Private Parking Beyond this Point – Vehicles will be Towed at Owner Expense.”

Byers said the signs will not only help those who are visiting downtown, but local businesses in that part of Main Street where people are looking to park.

“The signs will make it a little more clear. We want everyone to be happy when they come downtown, and to get along, and to support our local businesses,” Byers said about the effect of the coming signage, “not just retail businesses, but all businesses. Clearer signage may help everybody.”

Though there is confusion about the Pearson Avenue parking situations, Byers said members of the public should also be aware of structures already in place to help identify where they can park. These structures include the current signs in the private and reserved spaces, but also the placement of parking meters.

She said this is a good practice for visitors, in general. Where there are meters in front of spaces, or to the right of roadside spots, or kiosks down Main Street, or at the entrances of parking garages, Byers said, these structure give the public a general idea of where public parking spots are. She said people should not assume there are other spots open to public parking, absent said structures.

Sharon Bradley, who along with her husband Dimitry Zhivotovsky own the private lot on Pearson, said she is not sure if the signage will help curb the amount of people who are parking in the lot. She believes the current signage is fairly clear.

While Bradley and her husband are relatively new owners of the lot, they are aware of the ongoing issues concerning the parking situation.

“Honestly, I feel that it’s clearly private. I think that people are just not being careful,” Bradley said. “We’ve been owners for just over a year, and with the previous landlord, it was the same story.”

The lot, which consists of 12 spaces, serves as residential and business parking for 100 Main St., which Bradley said features more than 35 tenants. As far as Bradley and her husband are concerned, those spots should not taken advantage of by the public. If a car is towed out of the lot, it is up to the owner of the vehicle to take responsibility, she said.

“There would be no aggressive towing, and no towing costs, if people park considerately,” Bradley said. “When you go to a city, you have to make sure you’re parking where you should park.”

Bradley and her husband, who contract with Tim Morine and Eastbound Towing from Pepperell, Massachusetts, said they have a contractual obligation to the tenants of 100 Main St. When they are notified that one of the spots is being used by someone who doesn’t have a permit, she said they take extra care to find out if the car is a tenant’s friend or a client of one of the business in the building.

“My experience with Tim is that he calls us if there is a car that doesn’t have one of our parking permits on it,” she said. “He will call us to make sure that this is not a new car we just rented to.”

“We, in turn, make a few phone calls to make sure that it’s not a friend of our tenant, or someone who has an appointment with someone,” she added.

Whether people who are parking in that lot are doing so to avoid meters, or because they are not totally aware of their surroundings, Bradley said it creates an inconvenience to the individuals who pay to rent those spots. Her focus is not on the costs those who are towed incur, but what she believes is a lack of respect for those living in her building.

“These are people who may be elderly; they may be disabled,” she said. “We do have a pregnant lady here who is a full-time student who parks there.”

One resident who chronicled his incident involving the Pearson lot was Nashua’s Chris Pierdominici. He posted on Facebook in late January after his vehicle was towed from the lot.

When recalling the event, he said he did not park with the intent to inconvenience residents who rent out those parking spaces. He said he just didn’t see the signs, so he didn’t realize it was a private lot.

“When I pulled up to the lot, there were two vehicles, an SUV parked in front of the sign in one corner, and a GMC truck in front of the sign opposite that obscured the other sign,” Pierdominici said of the Jan. 26 incident.

Pierdominici said his vehicle was towed from the lot that Saturday night between 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. He was then charged $320, in total, by Eastbound.

“I’m pretty fastidious in not parking in places I’m not supposed to,” he said, “not just because I don’t want to get a towed, but I don’t want to inconvenience anyone who rents parking spots.”

With the new signs being set up by city workers, Pierdominici said he hopes it will deter others who aren’t sure of where to park, saving them from a similar situation.

“That’s a long overdue improvement,” he said of the signs that will be installed.