Parking Authority reviews merchant parking downtown
Published 11:46 am, Wednesday, September 20, 2017
DARIEN — Town officials are rethinking the way they process and maintain the wait lists for merchant parking permits downtown.
According to Town Administrator Kate Buch, the current system is flawed in that there are multiple wait lists and tenants are allowed to put their name on as many as they would like.
“It’s really difficult to know what our true need is,” Buch explained at the Monday meeting of the Board of Selectmen, at which the board — also the town’s Parking Authority — weighed amending the regulations. “The current system, I think, can create inequities.”
Merchant parking permits are issued to tenants of retail establishments for $85 to accommodate both employees and customers and are to be placed somewhere visible in the windshield. Spaces are not specifically marked employee or customer, but are instead shared. The permits are needed for customers or employees parking longer than the two or three hour time limits posted at the various lots.
The multiple wait lists, corresponding to designated sections of Mechanic and Center street lots, are difficult also because they feature a mix of landlords and tenants.
“This was an issue raised by more than one landlord: ‘My tenant has the permits. What if my tenant leaves and he has four permits, what do I do about getting my new tenant permits?’ And the way the system is now the permits would come back and go to the next person on the wait list,” Buch explained.
In addition, there is no current limit to the number of merchant permits one business entity can have, resulting at times in an unequal distribution of spots split between customers and employees.
In order to mitigate those existing issues, the Selectmen agreed to make a series of small fixes.
On Buch’s suggestion, the board decided that the multiple wait lists be condensed into one list, that merchant permits only be granted to landlords and that landlords be required to specify upon application who will be using the permit.
“If you don’t do that, you don’t get your permit,” Buch said.
The Selectmen also elected to change nine seldom used incentive spaces, originally meant for commuters, on Tokeneke Road into employee parking to help alleviate the issue.
“It’s our job to balance the need of customers, commuters and employees with a finite amount of parking spaces,” First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said.