In a widely anticipated trial effort that’s designed to help ease the parking crunch on Main and Elm Streets, officials this week are starting to take in “request forms” for a new type of permit specifically for employees of downtown businesses.
The Parking Bureau will take in “Downtown Parking Permit Request Forms”—available for download here—through May 26, making 20 permits available each in Morse Court and Park Street lots during an initial trial year.
The new permits—in reality, no physical “permit” will be issued (rather, the license plates of those selected will be registered with the bureau)—will cost $429 and will be valid for a 12-month period ending June 30, 2018. The Parking Bureau is located on the second floor of the New Canaan Police Department.
Assuming there will be more request forms submitted than permits available, they’ll be awarded through a lottery system, according to Parking Superintendent Stacy Miltenberg, and how the bureau handles the issuance of the new permits after this year—for example, whether an entirely new lottery will take place for next summer or whether the program is expanded in any way—will depend on demand.
“Over the past several years the owners and employees of the businesses in the downtown area have requested and suggested that the town provide some parking spaces in the downtown lots, closer to their businesses,” Miltenberg told NewCanaanite.com.
“Most of the people involved said that they would be willing to pay a higher permit fee if these spaces were provided. It was brought to the Parking Commission by our department as well as the Chamber of Commerce. After several discussions at the last few Parking Commission meetings it was decided that we should give this a try.”
At $429, the cost of the new permits is in line with existing Park Street and Telephone Lot fees.
They’re designed to help solve the longstanding and well-documented difficulty of “free” 90-minute parking in the magic circle—intended to serve prospective shoppers and diners—being scooped up daily by those who are employed at downtown businesses. (Note: The Center School lot off of Maple Street by the library, where permits cost $147 per year, also is designed to serve employees and permits there are available through the bureau.)
The form for the new permits requires those requesting one to detail their business address downtown. Those who are not chosen for a spot will be wait-listed, according to the firm.
The Chamber’s Laura Budd credited Miltenberg and the Parking Commission, as well as the first selectman, with their response to a pressing need in the business district.
“People who work in downtown have been requesting this for many years and we are really happy that the Parking Commission decided to move forward with this test,” she said. “The first selectman has been supportive and we look forward to seeing what the demand is. The Parking department is running this very systematically and fairly and we really hope this is a very positive step in alleviating some of the prime parking space crunch in the downtown.”