‘Be Kinder to the Little Man’: Parking Officials Weigh New Permit Fees


One year after deciding to keep rates flat during what was an especially difficult period for rail commuters, parking officials on Friday night discussed the prospect of raising permit fees for next fiscal year.

A central question facing the Parking Commission is whether to raise rates at Center School—a parking lot where a significantly lower rate (now $120 per year) had been introduced to serve hourly wage earners in downtown New Canaan.

The strategy worked, bringing many retail and other workers’ vehicles off of Main and Elm Streets, freeing up some 90-minute spaces for shoppers and diners, commissioners said at their regular meeting.

Yet some members of the Parking Commission are looking to raise Center School lot fees by a larger percentage, given its low overall rate—a philosophy that newly re-elected Secretary Rick Franco questioned.

“I cannot say I am in sync with the popular thought on the Center School lot,” Franco said at the meeting, held in the Art Room at Lapham Community Center. “My thought is that we are trying to help someone who is not a salaried person, but rather paid hourly. Just a different person than we are used to discussing.”

He added: “My nature is to be kinder to the little man.”

Ultimately, the commission decided to put off a final decision on proposed new fees to its March 12 meeting. As with proposed fees for use of the Waveny Pool, the Board of Selectmen would need to approve a new slate of permit rates for the public parking lots.

Commissioner Peter Ogilvie suggested a 10 percent across-the-board increase in parking permit rates, which are set as follows through June 30:

  • RR/Lumberyard—$540
  • Richmond Hill—$432
  • Talmadge Hill—$432
  • Park Street—$396
  • Locust Lot—$384
  • Telephone Lot—$396
  • Center Lot—$120

Commissioner Pam Crum said Center School lot, with its relatively low rate, could stand for a larger percentage increase (say, 20 percent), because it would only mean $24 more per year, whereas even a 10 percent rise for the Lumberyard lot would come to nearly $60 (a $600 annual fee was discussed).

“Maybe we could go up to $150 without too much damage” at Center School lot, Crum said.

Parking Bureau Supervisor Karen Miller said many of those who park in the Center School lot are either working in retail shops or second-floor offices downtown. (Many others in retail are paying for metered parking at Morse Court, Park Street and Playhouse parking lots, Miller said.)

The group’s newest member, Stuart Stringellow, suggested that—if the goal is to make the most money—the commission think about increasing the price of annual permit at the town’s most desirable lot, Lumberyard, by a significant amount because the market will bear it.

For Franco, the commission’s job “is not about making the money—it is about putting all these people in the right spot, no matter where their lot is.”

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