After seeing its funding cut from next fiscal year’s budget, the proposed parking deck at Locust Avenue could come back to the town with a third level, officials said.
Doing so would mean the economics of the project “get much better than they are right now,” according to Parking Commission Keith Richey.
“The economics for that are kind of stretched, so you add another floor and at least 70 spots which you can say is entirely for commuter parking,” Richey said at the commission’s meeting Thursday, held at Town Hall. “So that is scratching my itch because of how high the Post Office now is, that you would not have to dig down that much because a three-story [deck] would still not be very high and if you are going to fight to death to get this thing done, would you not fight to get 150 extra spots rather than just 75 extra spots?”
Long a supporter of the decking at Locust Avenue, Richey on behalf of the Parking Commission expressed frustration that it has been put off further, calling the project “snakebit,” and said he learned of the possibility of a third tier for the deck from First Selectman Rob Mallozzi.
Supported by the Board of Selectmen in its review of the town’s spending plan for fiscal year 2018, the $4,125,000 in bonding for the widely anticipated parking deck was cut by the Board of Finance. New Canaan this budget season is facing pressing and major projects in athletic fields and several facility capital costs.
Asked about the prospects for Locust Lot, Mallozzi said now that funding in the immediate future has been pulled, “I’d look at all options before bringing it back next year.”
“Clearly we have an opportunity to address a greater degree of commuter parking in this project and to possibly bring down the per-space charge by looking at this,” Mallozzi said.
New Canaan “will look at any and all options” with respect to the Locust Lot, as it will with other projects, such as “the propane item was removed from the [Board of Education’s] capital budget,” he said.
Mallozzi referred to an estimated $819,000 project (see page 127 here) that would see underground propane tanks installed at all public schools, giving the district “dual fuel” capability (see description here). The first selectman gave examples where the town in the past has benefitted in the long-term from re-examining major capital projects, such as the seven (originally six) new tennis courts that went in at New Canaan High School three summers ago.
“We review unfunded projects all the time,” Mallozzi said. “Some come back in different forms. Some stay the same.”