‘Be Kinder to the Little Man’: Parking Officials Weigh New Permit Fees

One year after deciding to keep rates flat during what was an especially difficult period for rail commuters, parking officials on Friday night discussed the prospect of raising permit fees for next fiscal year. A central question facing the Parking Commission is whether to raise rates at Center School—a parking lot where a significantly lower rate (now $120 per year) had been introduced to serve hourly wage earners in downtown New Canaan. The strategy worked, bringing many retail and other workers’ vehicles off of Main and Elm Streets, freeing up some 90-minute spaces for shoppers and diners, commissioners said at their regular meeting. Yet some members of the Parking Commission are looking to raise Center School lot fees by a larger percentage, given its low overall rate—a philosophy that newly re-elected Secretary Rick Franco questioned. “I cannot say I am in sync with the popular thought on the Center School lot,” Franco said at the meeting, held in the Art Room at Lapham Community Center.

Changing Elm Street To Paid Parking: Officials Eye Solutions to Problem of Downtown Employees

Downtown workers—not shoppers, not diners—take up 70 percent of the parking spaces on Elm Street, and one way to reverse that phenomenon could be converting the main business drag to metered spots and designating the free spaces a bit further off of it, officials say. The prospect has been discussed on and off for years–its major merit being that employees only force themselves into the downtown spots because as it is, they’re free—though it typically has been met with opposition because there’s a feeling it would be “non-village-y” to put meters in the heart of the village, Parking Bureau Supervisor Karen Miller said Wednesday during the Police Commission’s regular meeting. Yet there likely is no more effective way to address “the most sophisticated game of musical cars that you have ever seen in your life,” Miller said, referring to workers’ habit of keeping the spots for themselves by swapping with one another prior to reaching their 90-minute limit at a single space. “The real solution is that it should be paid parking [on Elm and Main] and nothing in the [off-street lots], absolutely,” Miller said at the meeting, held in the Training Room at the New Canaan Police Department. “The employees are parking there because it is free and they can move from one street to another.”

It’s a game of musical cars that goes on “literally all day,” she added.

Increased Fines for New Canaan Parking Violators Proposed

Saying New Canaan demands far less from parking violators than nearby towns, the volunteer group that oversees off-street parking here is recommending a new slate of increased fines. In all, the Parking Commission is seeking to raise amounts on 15 of 23 violations that range from parking on a curb—or more than one foot from it—to obstructing fire hydrants and crosswalks. A look at what the commission is proposing —current fines and proposed—can be found at the end of this article. Not every commissioner agreed with every decision. When Peter Ogilvie suggested raising the three $20 fines—no parking zone, loading zone and obstructing two spaces—to $30, this exchange took place between Chairman Keith Richey and Secretary Rick Franco:
Franco: Someone has to second Peter.

‘Perfect Storm’ Brewing at Locust Avenue Parking Lot

Problems of overuse at what long had been New Canaan’s least busy parking lot are expected very soon to worsen, and town officials are trying to figure out how to get out ahead of what some are calling “a perfect storm.”

The past six weeks has seen a dramatic rise in the number of motorists parking in the Locust Avenue lot. In addition to longtime regulars—including people who work on that side of town—“new” users include some personnel and construction workers at the Fire Department (where interior and exterior capital projects are underway), construction workers at the Town Hall renovation site and in-town shoppers, diners and post office visitors who, under normal circumstances, would park behind Town Hall itself or in one of the lots that rise behind it (toward Park Street). Starting in August, demolition and construction work is expected to start just down the hill on Forest Street, where a 3-story residential-and-retail complex is going up. “There is a perfect storm that is exploding over there,” Parking Bureau Superintendent Karen Miller said at the group’s May 1 meeting. “And I won’t lie to you: It’s very bad.

Parking Permit Fees at New Canaan Lots to Stay Flat


Saying New Canaan’s rail riders have endured enough pain at the hands of Metro-North, town officials decided Friday to keep parking permit fees flat at town lots. The New Canaan Parking Commission had been “somewhat divided” in making its recommendation to the Board of Selectmen for fiscal year 2015, but “ultimately voted to keep everything flat,” Parking Bureau Supervisor Karen Miller said during a special meeting of the selectmen, held at the New Canaan Police Department. Here’s the fee schedule for annual permits:

Railroad/Lumberyard: $540
Richmond Hill: $432
Talmadge Hill: $432
Park Street: $396
Locust Street: $384
Telephone: $396
Center: $120

Selectman Beth Jones—recalling Metro-North’s difficulties, which in the past 12 months have included a collision in Fairfield, derailment with fatalities in Riverdale and seemingly endless weather-related delays and cancelations—said the rail line “has had a hard year and we did raise [the permit rates] last year.”

At least one New York City commuter agrees. Selectman Nick Williams said: “I have been a 20-year-plus commuter and I have never seen anything like this. This is an absolute disaster.”

The selectmen approved the fees unanimously.