Moynihan: Town to Eliminate Some Parallel Parking Downtown So Restaurants Can Expand Outdoor Dining Space 


Parallel parking is to be eliminated on the northern side of Elm Street's one-way stretch. Credit: Michael Dinan

Town officials say they’re planning to eliminate parallel parking on parts of four streets downtown in order to allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining.

Restricted to pickup and delivery since the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency, restaurants could begin serving patrons outside as early as May 20, Gov. Ned Lamont has said.

In New Canaan, police, public works and health officials are working on a plan that could be finalized early this week that would see expanded outdoor dining areas along parts of Elm, Forest, Main and Pine Streets, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.

“The governor is supposed to be issuing written guidance on how to do this outdoor dining,” Moynihan told members of the Parking Commission at a special meeting held Thursday via videoconference. 

“And I understand they are going to lift all Planning and Zoning requirements. They are going to lift requirements for an outdoor liquor permit if you have an indoor liquor permit. They are going to lift the requirements that you apply to the state—Main Street is a state road and ordinarily you have to apply to state for permits if you are going to do what we want to do, with the sidewalks and the parallel parking.”

The town is “not really closing any roads,” Moynihan said.

“Although Forest perhaps could be closed for certain hours, to enable the diners to be out on the sidewalk entirely,” he continued. “Eliminate the parallel parking so the pedestrians could walk where the parallel parking was and be sufficiently away from the diners so they are socially distancing.”

Those working on the plan include Public Works Director Tiger Mann, Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico and Health Director Jenn Eielson, Moynihan said. Such a change likely would need to be approved by the Police Commission, an appointed three-person body that oversees on-street parking, under the Town Charter. That group is scheduled to meet May 14 and 20.

Parking Commission Chair Keith Richey said, “Let’s pray for good and dry weather.”

Moynihan said he expected some restaurants to put up tents, and that he expected the restrictions and special allowance for restaurants to last through September and October. 

The first selectman had said during a press briefing last week that discussions are underway on whether and how downtown retailers also may take advantage of an expansion onto sidewalks with the elimination of some parallel parking.

2 thoughts on “Moynihan: Town to Eliminate Some Parallel Parking Downtown So Restaurants Can Expand Outdoor Dining Space 

  1. I applaud the town’s decision to adapt our downtown to accommodate restaurants and commerce in this time. This experiment to change parking configurations to increase safety and usage of downtown is fantastic.

    I encourage residents to use of the peripheral lots during this time (those that are not infirm.) Lots like Locust, Center and even Park St. and Morse Court often have spots available when Main and Elm are busy.

    Again, great teamwork by the Police Pedestrian team, Public works, and the Town Council to adapt and move forward.

  2. I hope the City makes plans to allow for continued vehicle access for residents who live on Forest Street if it shuts the street down entirely during fixed hours. 21 Forest Street is a multi-unit residential complex, and the sole garage access point is on Forest Street.

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