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Claremont DMV Moving to Newport

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 6/17/2016 12:37:17 AM
Modified: 6/17/2016 12:37:26 AM

Claremont — Customer complaints about inadequate parking on Water Street have prompted a decision by the state Department of Motor Vehicles to relocate its office to Newport later this year, the department’s public information officer said Thursday.

“We need excellent parking,” said Larry Crowe of the DMV. “The primary reason (we are moving) is complaints about parking. It is very difficult to find parking there.”

The Claremont location, which replaced an office in Lebanon that closed in 2011, is the only full-service New Hampshire DMV office in the Upper Valley. A North Haverhill office is open two Fridays each month for driver licensing.

Crowe said a firm date for the move to 20 North Main St. in Newport has not been set, but “it will be no sooner than Oct. 1.”

Crowe said the Department of Motor Vehicles placed an ad in search of a new location late last year, and the only response was from Sugar River Savings Bank, owner of the North Main Street property. The DMV will occupy 3,000 square feet in the space that was most recently Violette’s Supermarket, which closed its doors, Sugar River Savings Bank President Mark Pitkin said Thursday.

Those looking to renew their license or need other DMV services will have a travel time from Lebanon to Newport via Interstate 89 and Route 10 of about 30 minutes to make the 25 mile trip. From Claremont, the distance is 13 miles.

Crowe said although the multi-level parking garage, used by employees working in the Wainshal building next to the state office building, is a short walk to the DMV office, it does not satisfy the department’s parking needs. Many times an “examiner” has to do a road test and walking to the garage takes up too much time, Crowe said.

“We want to have as efficient parking as we can,” Crowe said.

Besides the DMV, the Department of Health and Human Services has an office in the same building at 17 Water St. For many years, the state office building, renovated in the early 1980s, was the only mill building occupied on Water Street.

But in the last several years, Water Street has become a lot busier after the renovation of two mill buildings — including old Woven Label building — which houses the Common Man Restaurant.

The Wainshal building is home to Red River Computer, and National Field Representatives has offices on the third floor.

Also adding demand for parking spaces is Ramunto’s restaurant on the eastern end of Water Street, and the Eagle Times newspaper relocated from River Road to 45 Crescent St. last week. The back of that building borders the parking on Water Street. Later this year, the owners of The Ink Factory, a business on Pleasant Street, plan to complete renovations of another Water Street mill building and move their business there.

Claremont’s Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill said the state office building has some dedicated spaces in the front of the building and other businesses, including Ramunto’s, have their own spaces as well, but she acknowledged that short-term parking is at a premium on the street.

“We have had great difficulty with full-time employees parking in short-term parking,” Merrill said. “We do have free, all-day parking at either end of the street” in the parking garage and CVS pharmacy lot.

Merrill said the city unsuccessfully tried to persuade the state to move the DMV office to the former North Street School or the Topstone building on Mulberry Street.

“I think they wanted a place with a big open parking area,” Merrill said.

Newport Town Manager Shane O’Keefe said the state Executive Council recently approved the lease with the bank.

“We are very excited about it,” O’Keefe said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com




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