Parking officials last week voted unanimously to recommend holding fees for both commuter and commercial lots flat for next fiscal year.
If approved by the selectmen, the Parking Commission’s recommendations would see permit rates for the Lumberyard, Richmond Hill, Talmadge Hill, Park Street, Morse Court and Telephone Lots remain as follows:
New Canaan Parking Permit Rates
|Current/Proposed Annual Rate
|free permit (through Dec. 31)
|Center School Lot
|free permit (through Dec. 31)
Commission Chair Keith Richey and members Peter Ogilvie, Laura Budd and Jennifer Donovan voted 4-0 in favor of the recommendations. The Commission has one open seat.
Regarding fees at the commuter lots, Richey said the town should “leave it alone in view of the recovery from the COVID crisis.”
As it is, the town has already extended the parking permits for those lots—Lumberyard, Richmond Hill and Talmadge Hill—through March 31 and also suspended metered parking in those lots through month’s end. (The selectmen are expected to take up the question of whether to continue those extensions through June 30.)
The Commission voted separately to recommend holding the fees for the “commercial” lots flat. In both cases, Budd made the motions for keeping the current rates.
The town offered permit-holders for the Park Street, Morse Court and Telephone Lots a pro-rated six-month permit starting Jan. 1, and also started charging for metered spaces in them. In some cases, the Commission has increased the number of permits that the New Canaan Parking Bureau is selling for the lots, and there’s still demand for them though less so for Morse Court, Parking Director Stacey Miltenberg said. That’s mainly due to the fact that New Canaan has offered free parking permits for downtown workers in the Center School and Locust Avenue Lots—an experiment that the town instituted amid the COVID-19 crisis that inadvertently has solved the problem of those workers taking up the free spots on Main and Elm Streets. The Commission is recommending those free permits be offered again from July 1 through Dec. 31.
Ogilvie said he had “a concern about the middle of the summer.
“Todd Lavieri, head of the Board of Finance, said he expected to have all approvals for library completed by end of June, that includes Planning & Zoning and the selectmen, which suggests the library will be starting their project in July and that is going to significantly affect parking, I suspect.”
Richey responded that the period during construction will be a “good test to find out” whether the 76 spots is sufficient or creates a parking problem.
“And if it does then I am certainly—and I am sure we all feel the same—then we can push back and say, then you need to add more parking to your plan or else you need to pay to reconfigure the Center Lot to add more parking spots,” he said.
Richey—who in 2020 decided without the Commission’s input to void a ticket issued to a motorist who’d parked illegally in a disabled space—continued that he was upset about what appeared to be a lack of parking accommodations for disabled people.
Richey noted that the library is unable to do underground parking—officials from the organization have said that’s because of both traffic and cost concerns. He said that there likely will be “enough parking in the Center Lot, I think, to accommodate the needs.”
“So this is not exactly a Parking Commission comment, but just on a personal basis, wouldn’t it behoove them to go back to the architects and say, let’s revise our plan so that we can at least have the handicapped parking on this block, where the library is?” Richey said. “Shouldn’t we revise our plans to have a place where parents bring their kids and drop them off without having to cross the street? And shouldn’t we have a place where you can drive in return a book? Have a book drop? And none of those things right now are on the proposed library’s construction even though they have more land than they do today, and the library that they are contemplating is roughly the same size as the library today? So I don’t want to make this about the library but I do think separately that we may want to get — again, I think there will be enough spots to accommodate them in the Center Lot. But still, i find it a little upsetting that they haven’t revised their plans, in lieu of the fact that they can’t have underground parking, to at least have handicapped parking on their lot, and at least have a drop-off for parents and at least have a drop-off for book return.”
Ogilvie responded, “I only wish you had made those comments a week ago.”
Richey said, “Well I made them privately.”
Ogilvie said, “Well that helped.”
None of those who submitted written parking ticket appeals came to the meeting to have a virtual hearing.
One Zoom account, ‘Caroline Murray,’ did join the call and there was a ‘Peyton Murray’ listed among the appellants. However, the Commissioners heard only background noise and were not able to address that individual during the meeting.
Richey said noted that the first name of the Zoom account was different from the appellant’s name.
“It sounded like a woman’s voice not a Peyton,” he said. “But I guess Peyton could be non gender.”