‘People in This Town Don’t Like To Walk’: Officials Advise Commission To Leave Loading Zone Unchanged

New Canaan shouldn’t relocate or otherwise alter a frequently abused loading zone on Main Street, police said this week, because doing so would only move the problem elsewhere and risks an exacerbating intervention by the state. 

Instead of making the loading zone at the East Avenue intersection shorter—or moving it, or changing the times at which non-truck-driving motorists are fined for parking there—the town should do all it can to notify drivers that it’s trucks-only from 7 to 11 a.m., authorities said during Wednesday’s regular meeting of the Police Commission. The loading zone itself does get used sporadically throughout the day, New Canaan Police Community Impact Officer Kelly Coughlin told the appointed body. “It does get busy on that upper half of Main Street,” Coughlin said during the meeting, held via videoconference, referring to Main between East and Locust Avenues. 

“So I do notice that parking fills up, but the other thing I’ve noticed is the other half—the lower half, south of that intersection—there are quite a few spaces right by Connecticut Muffin, in front of Gofer, on both sides. A lot of those businesses aren’t open until 11 o’clock or in COVID times, even 12 [p.m.] or later, but a lot of people don’t seem willing to cross over the crosswalk or go a little bit further. People want the convenience of parking right in front of the store.

Police Commission Votes 3-0 To Extend Outdoor Dining Set-Ups on Main and Elm through Feb. 17

The Police Commission last week voted unanimously to allow Main and Elm Street restaurants to keep their COVID-19 outdoor dining set-ups—where tables are out on sidewalks, and some pedestrian access ways dip behind barriers into the street—for another month. Created last May and extended periodically since then, the temporary sidewalk and parking configurations are designed to give more outdoor dining space to restaurants that have been under changing capacity restrictions since the onset of COVID-19 virus. (As of Nov. 6, under the governor’s order, they’re allowed no more than 50% capacity total between indoor and outdoor dining.)

“It’s more that the weather’s been great,” Commission Chair Paul Foley said at the appointed body’s Jan. 20 meeting, held via videoconference.

‘It’s Busier Than People Think’: Officials Re-Examining Main Street Loading Zone

Municipal officials say they’re collecting data to help determine whether to change the parking rules or configuration in a long-discussed area of downtown New Canaan that’s seen a rise in recent years in service-oriented businesses. Members of the Police Commission are asking an officer assigned to the downtown beat to observe the area of Main Street just north of East Avenue in the mornings. Officer Kelly Coughlin will gather information for police and parking officials so they can better understand how heavily a 7 to 11 a.m. loading zone there is used by delivery trucks, and whether those seeking to patronize businesses in the immediate vicinity have ample on-street parking spaces further up Main Street or across it, in front of Town Hall. The main focus is a two-hour window from 9 to 11 a.m., when parking enforcement officers are patrolling downtown New Canaan and several businesses that front the loading zone—including greenology and StretchLab—are open and busy serving customers and clients. “It’s busier than people think,” Coughlin told the Commission at its Jan.

Three-Week Road Closure Planned for Downtown

Parts of Locust Avenue and Main Street will be closed at night as part of a three-week project slated for April, officials say. Eversource’s work on Locust from the area of Forest up to Main, and then down Main to East Avenue, is expected to start around 9 p.m. and continue until about 5 a.m., according to Project Manager Charlie Frangis. “Since it’s at night it will be less of an imposition but we just want to detour traffic, including trucks, either through or around the construction site,” Frangis told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting, held Jan. 20 via videoconference. 

The state requires a letter from the town’s local traffic authority (the Commission) for Eversource to do its work. Commission Chair Paul Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and member Shekaiba Bennett voted 3-0 to approve the necessary road closures and detours, contingent on including New Canaan Fire Department officials being included in the planning.