New Canaan’s Parking Commission on Thursday broached the possibility of extending the parking limit in the heart of the downtown from 90 minutes to two hours due to the increasing requests of residents who dine, shop and conduct business downtown on a regular basis.
Stacy Miltenberg, superintendent of the Parking Bureau, said she’s hearing residents who park on Elm Street voicing similar concerns to those that prompted officials to boost the limit on Main Street to two hours, namely, it’s “located in an area where there’s doctor’s offices, salons, and people sometimes need more than two hours and they can’t pay for it.”
“I have not heard anybody complain that they’ve never had enough time when they’re parking [at Main Street], so it seems to be working well,” Miltenberg told members of the commission during their regular meeting, held at Town Hall.
Miltenberg said that in addition to residents coming into her office and telling her that when meeting with friends for coffee or a meal on Elm Street, often 90 minutes just isn’t enough, if the parking limit were increased, it would have a positive impact on parking enforcement employees. Therefore, she recommended that the parking limit for every downtown street should be two hours.
“The streets are all different times,” she said. “Some of them are 90, some of them are an hour, some of them are two hours. I think for patrol reasons, also, consistency would be a lot better because what happens is, sometimes, people know that Elm [Street] and Main [Street] are 90 minutes and then they think that South [Street] is 90 minutes… or they think Cherry [Street] is two hours or they think that Elm [Street] or Main [Street] is two hours, so it throws off a lot of people if they’re not looking for signs because they think one street is like the other, so I think it’s valid to kind of discuss it and think about it.”
Commission Chairman Keith Richey agreed with Miltenberg and concerned town residents, and said that he’s personally had experiences where he’s met with friends for lunch and felt that the 90-minute parking limit on Elm Street was too short.
“There’s so many restaurants now where people are stopping for lunch and if you’re having a nice lunch and you want to have a cappuccino at the end, it’s hard to get in and out of there in under two hours or to do it in 90 minutes,” Richey said.
Commissioner Peter Ogilvie pointed out that it’s the police that ultimately determines the parking limits in town. Richey said that it was worth it to at least recommend to the department that all parking limits be changed to two hours.
Both Ogilvie and commissioner Stuart Stringfellow expressed concern about commuters, construction workers, local office owners and employees taking advantage of the increased parking limits, while Miltenberg pointed out that it’s already occurring at the 90-minute limit.
“Yes, it’s the real estate agents [taking up the spots], but it’s also the people coming to do the shopping and to do the restaurants,” she said.
Still, Ogilvie maintained, customers aren’t the problem, but rather it’s “the Realtors, lawyers, and the construction guys.”
For those dining on Elm Street, Ogilvie said he wonders why they don’t choose to park at the Park Street lot or Morse Court instead, but Richey said that customers might not realize ahead of time that it’s going to take them that long to finish their meal.
“Sometimes I’ll go to Rosie on a Saturday and it ends up taking 15 minutes just to sit down,” Richey said. “So, things can take long.”
Richey said that he plans to send an email to the New Canaan Police Department to open the discussion.