Town officials will do two things to give New Canaan commuters who have lingered on parking permit waiting lists a fair shot to keep their places on line, while also respecting those who have already paid a new $10 fee to do so.
The Parking Commission last week agreed to extend to Dec. 15 a deadline for filling out a form and submitting a $10 check to retain one’s spot on a waiting list, while those who conduct parking enforcement in New Canaan will place individual phone calls to commuters who so far have not responded to a letter describing the new fee.
That’s a lot of phone calls—630 to be exact, according to Stacy Miltenberg, interim superintendent of the New Canaan Parking Bureau. The figure represents about half of the 1,281 motorists whose names currently appear on waiting lists for permits in the Lumberyard, Richmond Hill and Talmadge Hill municipal lots.
Of those 651 people who did respond, about 85 percent paid the $10 in order to retain their places in line, Miltenberg reported to members of the Parking Commission during a special meeting.
“They got it in, they put their $10 in, it’s important to them and they’ve been on the waitlist,” she said during the meeting, held at Town Hall. “They’re calling me left and right, ‘Where do I stand, when am I getting close?’ and we cannot do anything just yet until we get all of this done.”
She referred to the legwork of phoning each nonresponsive party on the waitlists individually. That effort could be done by month’s end, she said.
Currently, Talmadge Hill’s waitlist is running about one year (possibly a bit longer), Richmond Hill three years and the Lumberyard seven to 7.5 years, Miltenberg has said. The permits cost upwards of $456 annually. Everyone on the waitlists this summer received a letter from the Parking Bureau detailing the new fee and an initial deadline of Oct. 31.
Keith Richey, chairman of the Parking Commission, said he wanted to be certain the town did all it could to reach commuters who “may have not been paying attention at all.”
“They may have tossed it, did not notice it in and will go ballistic if they find out they have lost their place on the parking list,” Richey said. “I’m not worried about the ones that don’t care. I’m worried about the ones who do care. So now we are wrestling with: Do we send another letter out to people or cull them down?”
The upshot for commuters in New Canaan is that, seemingly overnight, they could face far shorter-than-expected wait times for a commuter parking permit.
At the same time, Miltenberg noted, the non-response rate of roughly 50 percent is in line with the number of people who, once their names do come up, do not actually take a permit when contacted by the parking bureau.
Richey said it surprised him to hear that a total of 71 respondents bothered to get back to the bureau to say that they no longer wanted to be on the waiting lists. He suggested that in the future, the bureau consider sending self-addressed stamped envelopes to commuters when it comes time to update the waiting lists—rather than a returnable form and call for a check—in order to boost the response rate.