To the Editor:

We are all concerned about our property values, but perhaps less aware that an important component of those values is a vibrant town center. We need to do what we can to help create a business-friendly environment.

First, our current Main and Elm parking situation is not optimal.

We have approximately 300 people working in the business district. Many of them compete for parking spaces on Main and Elm. Let’s consider serious means to move workers off of Main and Elm. Once gone, we could extend parking to a more business-friendly time limit.

Second, let’s change the planning and zoning codes to allow professional offices on the ground floor in development on the fringe of the business district.

In our current zoning codes, this type of development is encouraged to be mixed-use —residences on top and retail on the bottom. These new buildings offer easier parking. Let’s allow professional offices on those ground floors — thereby discouraging the drain on town-center retail business.

Third, we should charge a realistic price for fee-in-lieu of parking.

Currently, if a developer cannot provide parking as required by the Planning and Zoning code, an option is to pay a fee-in-lieu of parking at only $7500 per space for the life of the new building. It would cost approximately $45,000 per space to build replacement parking. The income is ear-marked for a badly needed parking fund. Let’s address this imbalance.

These are just a few of the things we can do to help.

Kit Devereaux

Democratic Candidate for First Selectman