Norwich overhauls downtown parking plan

The Public Parking Commission unveiled a new parking plan Tuesday that takes effect June 1, adding free, long-term parking in four lots, changing on-street parking to 30 minutes and expanding its enforcement citywide.
The changes were announced during a special meeting Tuesday. Commission Chairwoman Olive Buddington said anyone with comments, complaints, issues and questions should contact the commission at (860) 889-5586 or attend the next meeting on July 27, after two months of experience with the new plan.

The plan eliminates the mixture of on-street parking time limits that now range from 20 minutes to two hours in most of the downtown area. On-street parking along Bath Street, Broadway, Chestnut Stret, City Landing, Courthouse Square, Ferry Street, Franklin Street and Franklin Square and Main and Union Streets will have a 30-minute per day time limit.

Buddington said the time limit is designed to give downtown what business owners have asked for repeatedly - parking turnover for customers. Long-term free parking will be placed farther away for employees and owners.

The only exceptions to the on-street limit are 15-minute so-called "express zones" for pickup and drop off on Main Street and lower Broadway. No validation for overtime parking from local businesses would be allowed in those zones.

Free long-term parking will be allowed in four city-owned lots and garages that previously either were restricted to monthly rentals or had metered parking. These are the YMCA parking lot on Main Street, the Chestnut Street lot, the waterfront lot at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park and the top level of the Main Street parking garage. Parts of the Main Street garage have metered parking.

While those changes take effect next Tuesday, within 90 days, the parking commission hopes to have improved directional signs to the free lots, have the express zones clearly marked and repaint the downtown parking areas. Buddington said most of the signs have been printed and are ready to be installed.

One aspect of the new plan has yet to be ironed out. The plan calls for parking enforcement and parking regulations to be enforced citywide. Buddington said there are no plans to add staff, and the commission now has only two parking enforcement employees.

The commission receives "by far" the most complaints from residents in the Norwich Free Academy area. Most streets there have no parking limit signs, and residents complain that people park so close to their driveways that they can't get out or can't see around the parked vehicles.

In the distant future, the commission hopes to install parking kiosks with locked boxes for people to place parking fees and have a shuttle bus system from the regional transportation center to be built at the intersection of West Main Street and Falls Avenue.
City of Norwich
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