New Bedford, like most older cities in the northeast, has an automobile parking problem. The problem has become political and increasingly personal.

The City of New Bedford has an old school building that has been mothballed since 2010. Since the school closed, the neighbors have been using the City property as a parking lot for their cars. When the City put the property up for sale, a grassroots movement developed to stop the sale and save the location as a neighborhood parking lot.

It looks like the sale to a private developer is dead for the time being.

Now City Councilor Brian Gomes is attempting to close the property off to the neighbors who have been parking there. Gomes, who supported the sale of the property, has put forward a motion in the City Council to have the parking lot "chained closed until further notice."

His motion is in line with Mayor Mitchell's arguments about the property. The mayor has repeatedly pointed out that the property is in decay and a liability to the City if nothing is done to repair the structure. Councilor Gomes' motion requests "the City permanently close the school parking lot area due to the condition of the building and the safety and the liability to the City".

He is giving the users of the parking lot 21 days to remove their autos or the City will tow them away at the owner's expense.

The City Council will vote on this motion this coming Thursday at their normal meeting. Some may accuse Gomes of sour grapes and others will say he is looking out for the interest of the City.

What really matters is how the rest of City Council and Mayor Mitchell feel about this latest twist.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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