‘This Is Not the Year’: Parking Commission Divided on Whether To Raise Rates of Commuter Lot Permits


As New Canaan faces threats of reduced service on its rail line and the likelihood of devalued real property and increased taxes, it should reduce the fees for permits to park in commuter lots this year, according to one member of the Parking Commission.

According to Chris Hering, if New Canaan looks considers its “optics” relative to comparable towns—at “our competitive towns, arguably,” he told fellow commissioners at their regular meeting March 14—then it makes sense to help commuters.

Told that doing so would deprive the town of a ready source of revenue, Hering said: “You are basically telling everyone that earns money in this town, that goes and pays for parking, you are going to tell them, ‘Hey, why don’t you move to Darien? It’s another $400 cheaper.’ ”

He proposed a 20 percent reduction to the rates, but found no support from fellow commissioners.

Ultimately, the four commissioners who attended the meeting at Town Hall—Hering, Chairman Keith Richey, Pam Crum and Peter Ogilvie (Stuart Stringfellow was absent)—could reach no consensus on whether to reduce or raise the rates, or keep them flat. The commission advises the Board of Selectmen on the fee schedule and ultimately it’s up to the selectmen to make a decision (more on that below).

Only New Canaan residents can purchase parking permits for the three commuter lots.

Here’s a look at recent and current rates:

New Canaan Parking Permit Rates—Current

Parking Lot2015-162016-172017-18
Richmond Hill$444$456$465
Talmadge Hill$444$456$465
Park Street$408$420$429
Morse Court$429
Locust Lot$384$408$420
Telephone Lot$408$420$429
Center Lot$132$144$147
* Source: New Canaan Parking Commission


Hering and Crum both voted in favor of keeping the permit rates flat, but Richey and Ogilvie voted against that. The opposite happened when Richey and Ogilvie proposed either 2 or 3 percent increases, respectively.

Here’s a look at what the new rates would look like under those increases:

New Canaan Parking Permit Rates—Proposed

Parking LotCurrent2% increase3% increase
Richmond Hill$465$474$479
Talmadge Hill$465$474$479
Park Street$429$438$442
Morse Court$429$438$442
Locust Lot$420$428$442
Telephone Lot$429$428$433
Center Lot$147$150$151
* Source: New Canaan Parking Commission


Though New Canaan’s rates for commuter lot permits already are higher than comparable towns—$345 in Darien, for example, and $325 in Westport—those municipalities are different because the state owns the lots themselves. That means the towns are not responsible for underwriting their upkeep or paying down the cost of purchasing them, and in no way benefit from raising rates, Richey said.

“So our town unlike these other ones, we have spent real money to buy these lots,” he said.

Hering replied: “By that logic we can sell Waveny Park because we own it.”

Yet the parking lots are a valuable asset that can be monetized, Richey said.

These other towns—it’s state-owned land they could never sell it and get revenue for it, and whatever they charge, they could never get revenue for it,” he said.

Here’s a look at revenues that the commuter parking permits have generated in recent years:

Revenues from Commuter Lot Parking Permits

LotNo. spacesPermits sold*2015-162016-172017-18 est.
Total revenue**$602,640$649,008$661,926
Richmond Hill7088$43,512$40,128$40,920
Talmadge Hill366430$189,144$196,080$199,950
Source: New Canaan Parking Commission
* Figures represent total permits sold for fiscal year 2016-17
**Total does not include metered parking at commuter lots


Crum proposed a flat rate this year.

“This is not the year to be doing that,” she said, referring to an increase.

Crum added: “I think in this year we have to say that we understand there are issues financial issues for people.”

However, Richey and Ogilvie countered that the economy is strong and unemployment is low.

“There is no recession now,” Richey said. “The economy is booming.”

Ogilvie noted for the record that he was in rare agreement with the chairman.

When Richey said the commission increases the fees for commuter parking permits each year, Crum noted that there have been years in the past where it was kept flat.

When Richey said he watched the rates go up long before Crum joined the Parking Commission, she noted that she joined the volunteer group one year after he did.

Richey said the longer train travel times from New Canaan are far more important to commuters than small increases to permit fees.

On the question of New Canaan courting homebuyers versus Darien, Ogilvie, a Realtor, said New Canaan’s market has been hurt because it’s “vastly overpriced.” While starter homes here rarely sell for less than $1 million, Darien has substantial inventory in “railroad houses”—homes built in the late 19th century and early 1900s for railroad workers—which can range from $600,000 to $950,000, he said.

New Canaan is “only exceeded by Rowayton, which is even more overpriced,” he said.

To Hering’s argument that the certainties of an increased mill rate and rising taxes hurt New Canaan, Ogilvie said local property taxes are not a major concern for homebuyers.

Richey after the commission voted to 2-2 ties on all proposals, observed: “This is why we need Stuart.” He referred to Stringfellow, the fifth commissioner and potential tie-breaking vote.

At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan noted that the commission reached no consensus with respect to the fees and suggested that Richey attend the selectmen’s March 27 meeting as the board considers the fee schedule.

Selectman Kit Devereaux said: “If we are going to have the chairman come, is it maybe a good idea to have someone who had opposition to that, to hear both sides?”

Moynihan responded that “at this point, I think perhaps I will make a recommendation for a specific recommendation.”

“They had alternative recommendations, but in the absence of the Parking Commission making a recommendation, I think it comes to the Board of Selectmen to decide what we want to do.”

Selectman Nick Williams said anyone is welcome to comment at the board’s meetings on an agenda item.

Moynihan said it’s important to have “continued revenues to pay for parking lot maintenance “ and that “we have a lot of deferred paving to do.”

4 thoughts on “‘This Is Not the Year’: Parking Commission Divided on Whether To Raise Rates of Commuter Lot Permits

  1. Is this a tug of war to see who pays the least or more $$$$$
    Keep raising fees and taxes and folks will surly move from
    good old New Canaan that was once a small, sleepy town.
    It’s my belief congestion is bringing this area down the tubes.
    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Norm J.

  2. If all of the fees were dedicated to the operation and repair of the lots you could justify an increase but the last time I checked, the Town takes in over $1.7 million and paid only $400,000 to run the parking department.

  3. CORRECTION: Actual revenue from permits, meters and tickets in 2016-17 were $1.25 million. Not $1.7 which should have read $1.17 that was 2015-16. Sorry.

  4. How about just building a parking garage like Fairfield University and many other locales have done to deal with parking shortages? A multi-stage garage at the former lumberyard property would be a good solution.

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