Parking Commission Votes 3-2 To Keep Permit Rates Flat Next Year

A divided Parking Commission voted last week to keep rates for all permits to town lots flat for next fiscal year. With some commissioners pushing for relief especially for commuters who already face the highest annual fees for parking permits, the appointed body voted 3-2 during its March 14 meeting to keep rates flat. The recommendation now moves to the Board of Selectmen. 

Commissioner Chris Hering noted that the MTA is already raising its own rates. “I really think we want to drive ridership and given our that our Talmadge Hill parking lot is not full—we don’t have waitlist there—and, this is anecdotally, but people are happy when they are the newcomers and they can commute and get a permit in Talmadge Hill it’s nice,” Hering said during the meeting, held in Town Hall. In pushing back against one proposal for an across-the-board 2 percent increase in permit rates—which would see the cost of commuter lot permits go up more than others—Hering said that New Canaan already is a less attractive town for many commuters because it’s a longer ride and more difficult to find parking at rail lots than many others. 

“It’s a matter of creating an incentive for them or having them drive down to Darien for less money,” Hering said.

Town Officials Vote 4-1 To Charge for Disabled Parking Spaces at Railroad Station 

After research showed that several nearby towns already do so, officials last week recommended that six spaces for disabled parking at the train station be included among those charged $6 per day. The Parking Commission’s recommendation by a 4-1 vote is limited to six spots fronting the train platform on the north side of the station downtown and does not extend to municipal lots. The measure still requires approval from the Board of Selectmen. Commission Chairman Keith Richey said during the appointed body’s March 14 meeting that state officials have confirmed “the town has latitude and discretion to charge a parking fee for handicapped designated spaces at the rail stations.”

“This is a common practice at many New Haven line station facilities,” Richey said, citing a memo from the state Department of Transportation’s supervising rail officer. 

Currently, disabled people using the six spots at the train station are not charged. Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg said a survey conducted at the request of First Selectman Kevin Moynihan showed that of five comparable towns—Stamford, Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich and Darien—only one (Darien) does not charge for disabled spots at train station lots.

West Road Bridge Replacement on Track for Spring 2020

Town officials last week approved a $100,000 contract with a Newington-based consulting firm to design a West Road bridge whose headwall failed during a storm last summer. 

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of the contract with WMC Consulting Engineers. The new bridge will replace the existing one, located just north of the intersection at Turtle Back Road. The town moved the funding for the project up by a few months so that, following an estimated six-month design phase, the project can go out to bid in late-2019 for spring 2020 construction, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. New Canaan is expected to pay about $921,000 toward the total $1.8 million cost to replace the bridge, Mann said said. The Connecticut Department of Transportation has committed to a 50 percent grant that will go toward construction design and administration, Mann told the selectmen at their March 12 meeting.

Rona Siegel Elected Chairman of Parks & Recreation Commission

The Parks & Recreation Commission on Wednesday night elected Rona Siegel as chairman of the advisory body. 

Voting 8-0 with two people abstaining, the Commission cast its vote during an organizational meeting at Town Hall, conducted by First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. 

Sally Campbell, who has served as Commission chairman since May 2013, said prior to nominating Siegel that she would remain in the group through the year but that she would not seek the chairmanship. 

“I think it’s time to move on,” Campbell said. “I have been chair for countless years and on the Commission for countless years. I have been very happy with how we work, our Commission, with each other, how we work with [Public Works Director] Tiger [Mann], who has been terrific, and John Howe with Parks and Steve [Benko] in Rec, and I think we made a big impact.”

Campbell continued, saying, “I think it’s time for a change and change is always good, so I just wanted to put that out there. And if I can I would make a recommendation for chair, that would be Rona Siegel. She came onto the Commission two years ago and she has been very impactful since then and there has been nothing that she’s taken on that she has not done brilliantly.