Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Parking Relief for NoRA

The somewhat chaotic parking situation along the North End of Main Street has prompted action from the Economic Development Committee.  The committee unanimously recommended that the City lease a private lot for six months to help North End businesses.

The committee held a special meeting Tuesday evening, primarily to deal with a request for assistance from the owners of businesses in the "NoRA" neighborhood, north of Rapallo Avenue.

City Planner Bill Warner noted that when the new Community Health Care building was constructed, it  eliminated a 55 spot parking lot next to Eli Cannon's Tap Room.  As a result Eli's and other businesses have been dealing with a disrupted and sometimes unpredictable parking situation for almost 2 years.  

During that time, Eli's owner Phil Ouellette has been leasing parking space in a lot adjacent to the old trolley barn building behind his restaurant.  That lot is also part of a city plan to create one large parking area to serve businesses at the north end of Main Street.  The plan is proceeding, but soil testing and an eminent domain court case need to be resolved before it can be completed.

The committee recommended to the Common Council that the city spend $6,000 to lease the lot for six months while the city parking plan is completed, and make the parking available to the general public.

The committee also recommended that a resolution be made allowing the city to enter into an agreement with the state's Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, to become one of 12 pilot communities offering funding to local businesses to help with clean energy investments.


Linda Bowers said...

I am happy to see that the City is responsive to the needs of the business community in the North End. It is heartening.
The retailers in the central blocks of Main St. have been asking the Parking Department for a return to free parking on Saturdays in the Melilli and Arcade parking lots, but have not had the same immediate and sympathetic response to our parking change request. We are struggling too to make a living. Are free Saturday parking lots too much to ask for?

Random Esker said...

A good and valid point being made by Linda. Is it too much to ask the taxpayer for free Saturday parking in the downtown lots? It seems to me to make good sense for the longterm - keeping the "mom & pop" downtown merchants on the same playing field as the outlying malls with their free parking and for the City who will be seen to welcome visitors with the free parking on a weekend day. Is a compromise possible? Maybe free parking after noon or until noon? The idea deserves attention.

Anonymous said...

stores at the mall pay for the parking lots. Its rolled into their per square foot lease. Downtown merchants should pay a square foot surcharge to support the O&M of the city lots.

Random Esker said...

I believe that the building owners pay a Downtown Business District tax. Who's to say it isn't included in that assessment? If it isn't, maybe it should be?

Pamela Steele said...

It is true that mall stores pay for the parking, but they are also major corporations. Most merchants downtown are one owner or family owned businesses. If we had as much traffic downtown as the malls do this would be a non issue, but unfortunately this is not the case.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda Bowers said...

Anonymous suggests that businesses should pay to maintain the City’s parking lots, or in other words ‘pay to play,’ which opens up an interesting line of logic. It seem like they are suggesting that if we benefit because our patrons use the City lots then we should pay for that? Right now, just to set the record straight, businesses are paying real estate taxes through our rents and business tax on our business components such as shelving, computers, even carpets. Our Middletown resident customers are paying real estate taxes and then paying again if they use the lots during the day. Middletown has become known for being a restaurant destination – which coincidentally most of which business is conducted at night, after free parking has kicked in. Is Anonymous suggesting (and they wouldn’t be the first but no one wants to say it out loud) that parking charge should be extended beyond 6 pm in order to capture more revenue? There are expenses for new lighting in the lots. This will benefit the restaurant patrons so maybe charging into the evening is not such a bad idea, if you want to follow through with Anonymous’ logic. Other downtowns, that we like to be compared favorably with, do charge for parking in the evening.
When the gate system was initiated last year Saturday parking in the lots was no longer free, because the Council budgeted for the Parking Department to be a revenue producer instead of budget neutral. Business owners downtown have found that this policy has affected our revenue. The grand experiment has failed in our view and we are asking for a return to free Saturday parking.
We envision a downtown (North, Central and South) where people feel like they can come for a couple of hours to have lunch and shop at more than one store; to explore and wander. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? What if there were street musicians and artists to entertain? What if people were strolling with their cupcakes and ice cream or yoghurt cones? What we are seeing now are shoppers who feel constrained by their one hour of free parking and leave before that is up. The Parking Department’s statistics bear this out. We wish for more than that for our customers.
Linda Bowers and Pamela Steele

Ridge Road Resident said...

In my own case, charging for parking has backfired. When I park and pay, I find myself rushing and just doing the errands that I need to in order to get back to my car and avoid getting a ticket, as opposed to taking the time to look around and shop. Otherwise I would be more apt to wander into a shop I may not have encountered before,look around,and purchase something.

Anonymous said...

Ditto, Ridge Road Resident.

Anonymous said...

That's silly. If you are someone who can afford to wander and shop (therefore increasing revenue as the mom and pop retailers hope you will with that extra free time) than you can afford to put your credit card in and spend $3.00 to max out the time on Main St.

In the Melilli lot, the first hour is free and it's $1 per hour after that. I have a hard time believing that people with expendable income are rushing to avoid the $1 charge. Maybe they just aren't that interested.

As for Nora, I hope that parking lot the city will be paying for is public and for everyone. The city has spent a lot of money on parking lots for individual businesses lately and it really needs to benefit all businesses.

Random Esker said...

To anonymous 8:57a - when I was a young boy my Dad explained to me how Checker cabs were the strongest, most dependable automobile made. I asked why everyone didn't own one. He explained that there are many reasons that may come into play when choosing an automobile and that selectivity is what made the world an interesting place. What he was also saying is that not everyone thinks alike and we do things for different reasons. What I suggest is that maybe some people just have a thing against paying for parking but still would enjoy window-shopping or buying from stores on a Saturday. What you seem to be saying is, "If you don't think like me you must be a jerk."