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

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The Lumberyard Lot in downtown New Canaan. Credit: Michael Dinan

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.

Here’s a look at the parking permit rates as they stand now:

New Canaan Parking Permit Rates

Parking LotCurrent
RR/Lumberyard$624
Richmond Hill$474
Talmadge Hill$474
Park Street$438
Morse Court$438
Locust Lot$429
Telephone Lot$438
Center School Lot$150
Source: New Canaan Parking Bureau
* The Parking Commission has recommended keeping rates flat, the Board of Selectmen has not yet voted.

 

Hering and Commissioners Pam Crum and Stuart Stringfellow voted in favor of the flat rates. Chairman Keith Richey and Commissioner Peter Ogilvie voted against it. Richey and Ogilvie were alone in voting in favor of two different versions of a 2 percent increase. 

Richey said the Commission used to leave permit rates flat for a few years at a time and then ask for a 10 percent increase to catch up, which would make motorists angry. 

Crum said she was willing to raise the permit rates for some types of permits—for example, at Center School lot or a pair of downtown lots serving local professionals—but not for commuters. 

“I am wondering how many people are being affected with difficulty by the new assessment, those that have had the big houses that have gone down tremendously with the assessment,” Crum said.

She referred to an increase in the permit fees, though modest, “another tax in the end.”

“I listen to people they are talking and they are saying they’re barely making it and now this and that is going up, this is costing more and that is costing more,” Crum said.

Asked for his thoughts during the meeting, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said, “I would go with a flat change or no change. We are getting high relative to other towns.”

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