Town officials on Tuesday approved an agreement designed to boost commuter parking in New Canaan by 60 spaces through the St. Aloysius Church parking lot.
Under a lease agreement that the Board of Selectmen approved by a 3-0 vote, the town will lease the spaces from St. A’s and make them available to commuters through a Cranford, N.J.-based company’s mobile app.
Normally the company, Boxcar, works with private property owners who are offering spaces near train stations on a far smaller scale, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. But in this case, given the proximity of St. A’s to the New Canaan Train Station, the volume of spaces to be made available there and especially the relief that extra parking would bring to commuters who wait years for permits to nearby lots, the town stepped in to bring St. A’s on board and help facilitate a lease agreement, Moynihan said.
With Boxcar, property owners designate spaces that go into a pool, and then motorists seeking to park go into the app and reserve those spaces at a daily rate.
The service will launch Sept. 10 in New Canaan, according to Parking Manager Stacy Miltenberg.
“It sounds like it’s a great idea and we are hoping to help commuters,” Miltenberg said during the selectmen’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall.
Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted in favor of the lease agreement.
The launch of the service has been several months in the making.
Williams called it a “fantastic development” and thanked both St. Aloysius and Moynihan for doing a “great job” to get Boxcar in place at the church’s lot. He noted that the introduction of Boxcar in New Canaan means the town can hit pause on early-stage plans to build a new multi-million dollar parking deck at the Lumberyard Lot. Williams also credited Moynihan with successfully negotiating a lease with state officials that will see an additional tier carved out along Route 106 at Talmadge Hill Road, increasing available parking there.
Moynihan said that additional opportunities at private properties near the train station downtown, including some businesses, could see a total of about 150 additional parking spaces made available to commuters. That’s expected to “greatly alleviate” the waitlist for the Lumberyard, Moynihan said (at last count, it stands at about 483 and six years).
Under a $2 million insurance policy, both the town and St. Aloysius are covered, Moynihan said. The town approached St. A’s about how it could help address a need here for more commuter parking, and also became part of the lease agreement so that the church itself doesn’t have to pay property tax, Moynihan said, citing a state law that says a municipality can lease property for a public purpose without subjecting the owner of that property to real estate taxes.
The selectmen asked Miltenberg whether the Parking Bureau would “oversell” the Boxcar spaces as it does permits for town lots (no), what the hours of parking would be for those buying time through Boxcar (6 a.m. to midnight) and how parking enforcement would work.
According to Miltenberg, those parking in Boxcar-designated spaces without paying would be notified of their violation and ultimately St. A’s would determine how to address chronic offenders, should any materialize.
Devereaux asked whether the new parking service would cost the town anything, and Moynihan answered that New Canaan has said it would help St. A’s with plowing in the designated area during “large snowstorms.”