The Economic Development Committee (EDC) will hold a special meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 29, 6:30, Room 208), to address the proposed path which will allow residents in the large Wesleyan Hill subdivision to travel to Main Street and to Wesleyan by bicycle.
The "Wesleyan Hills/Wesleyan University/Downtown Connector Project" would be largely funded by the Federal Department of Transportation. City Planner Bill Warner will present a bicycle path plan developed by City Engineer Tom Nigosanti prior to the EDC meeting. His presentation starts at 5:30 on Tuesday, also in Room 208.
If the EDC and Common Council believe that parking is an important factor for economic development in our city, they should approve the Connector Project without delay.
Every Main Street shopper who arrives by bicycle instead of by car creates one free parking space for others, reduces traffic, and marginally reduces the frequency of road repair. The EDC has recently approved the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on parking and traffic studies and on parking lot construction (Melilli Plaza just finished, North End lot just beginning). The rationale for this spending has been that parking lots are necessary for the vibrancy of downtown.
A bicycle path taking people to a store or employment location creates open parking spaces in a cost-effective manner. This is especially true when considering that no businesses or homes are displaced for a parking lot--there is no reduction in the grand list as there is when downtown land is covered in a municipal parking lot.
Moreover, in communities throughout the country, property values have risen after the introduction of a bicycle paths (see HERE for a study in Massachusetts). The construction of bicycle trails connecting our city's residences, workplaces, shopping locations, and schools may be one of the most cost-effective ways to increase our grand list.