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Boston to have free parking at meters on Valentine’s Day

Mayor Thomas M. Menino wants no love lost over parking on Valentine’s Day.

The mayor announced Wednesday that romantic diners, and everyone else, will enjoy free parking at all city parking meters on Thursday.

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The initiative is designed to help businesses that were forced to close or may have lost customers due to impossible parking situations during the recent blizzard, said John M. Guilfoil, a spokesman for the mayor.

Guilfoil said the mayor’s office has no estimate of how much money the parking meter freeze will cost the city.

Courtney McCall, manager of No. 9 Park, a restaurant that draws a large Valentine’s Day crowd, said the recent parking ban had seriously hindered their business.

“Once there’s a storm and snow emergency you can’t offer valet and the majority of our customers use valet,” she said. “I think [free parking] will help us from a guest perspective. People will come and be more comfortable with their parking.”

During the weekend’s disruptive snowstorm, the city imposed a snow emergency and parking ban that was not lifted until 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Guilfoil said the city has turned off parking meters in the past in order to spur businesses after debilitating storms.

Charles Rudnick, a spokesman for the Boston Chamber of Commerce, said there were no hard numbers yet on how much money businesses lost because of the storm, but the monetary damages were “certainly very significant.”

In a statement released by his office, Menino urged residents to “Get out there and share the love!” with local businesses.

Todd Feathers can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.
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