NEW BEDFORD — Mayor Jon Mitchell announced Tuesday the temporary suspension of a plan to put paid parking in place at the handicapped-accessible Noah's Place playground on Pope's Island — although the proposed policy is not yet off the table.

The move comes after widespread public outcry led by City Councilor Ryan Pereira following a March 16 decision from the city's Park Board of Commissioners to implement a pay-to-park system at the Pope's Island Marina parking lot, which is shared with Noah's Place.

The fully ADA-accessible playground — the largest of its kind in New England — was officially opened in 2017 after years of work from the Team Noah Foundation and a multi-million dollar community investment.


In a news release on Tuesday, Mitchell stated that enforcement of the paid parking "will be suspended until further notice," with the city assessing usage of the lot over the summer.

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The planned policy was meant to protect the public's access to the playground by easing the use of the parking lot among marina users and their visitors, the mayor stated.

It was modeled on summer parking rules for city beaches, where residents use a seasonal pay-by-phone system.

According to Mitchell's statement, the Pope's Island parking lot "is often fully utilized in the summer," with city employees even witnessing ferry passengers parking there last year.

The pay-to-park policy would have allowed playground users to park free for two hours, Mitchell stated.

But since many playground users believe there isn't a problem with parking congestion, the statement noted, Mitchell has asked the city's parks department and port authority "to take a closer look at the policy in light of the public input."

He said both departments recommended a suspension of the policy while the situation is thoroughly examined.

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