ROCKLAND — The city has undertaken a study to determine whether parking meters should be installed downtown.

The city has hired a consultant for the study, and a parking advisory group met for the first time Wednesday, Sept. 14. A report from the consultant is expected within six months.

A public forum to get input from residents and those who have business interests downtown is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2 at City Hall.

The city has contracted with John Burke for $20,000 to conduct the study. The study will look at the amount of parking available and the amount needed for the area between Union and Main streets as far north as North Main Street and as far south as North Street. The study will also look at White Street near the Rockland Public Library and Summer Street between Union and Lincoln streets.

The City Council had met with companies prior to the pandemic about installing parking meters. In January 2022, the Council discussed paid parking downtown.

David Gogel, executive director of Rockland Main Street, said after that meeting, a survey on Jan. 21 with 44 responses found 69 percent of downtown businesses oppose paid parking downtown, and 62 percent of businesses felt it would have a negative effect on their businesses.

Mayor Ed Glaser said at that time that any paid parking needs to be designed so city residents do not have to pay.

Councilor Nate Davis said at the January meeting that empirical studies have shown people do not make their shopping decisions based on whether there is free or paid parking. He said those studies also have shown stores do not lose business when paid parking is imposed.

The goal of paid parking is to generate non-property tax revenues that would be used to repair crumbling roads and sidewalks.

Currently, much of the downtown has two-hour parking limits. Motorists who park longer may be ticketed.