By Elizabeth F. McNamara
Councilwoman Caryn Corenthal Monday night said the Town Council should consider granting a short-term parking space on Main Street in front of Frank & John’s restaurant.
“People want to come in and grab a pizza, etc., and they were having a lot of problems parking,” said Corenthal, who’d been approached about the problem by restaurant owner Lucy Chacon. Having a short-term space in front of the building could help their business, Corenthal said. “It will at least give them some relief for parking because they cannot afford valet and valet is sort of silly for a takeout business.”
Town Manager Andrew Nota agreed there was a need for some short-term parking on Main Street, but that handing one out to a single business might not be the best way forward.
“We as a staff are in agreement that there needs to be short-term parking,” he said. The Planning Departmen conducted an in-house evaluation of parking on Main Street in 2019 that showed enough of a challenge Nota said he was proposing money in the 2021 budget to hire an outside consultant for a comprehensive study of parking downtown.
“The question is, based on the timing … should that funding be approved and we go out for an RFP in the summertime, it would probably be next year at this time that we will actually be talking about recommendations from the study,” he said.
Nota said the council could wait until then to act or “look at a recommendation from staff holistically on adding one or more short-term spots to get us through the next year, year and a half, until the council will have substantive information before them.”
Nota added it was difficult to justify one spot in front of one business.
“If I’m a similar business a couple of months from now, when I learn what’s just happened, I’m going to be back making the same request and you’re going to be reacting to requests. I think we can avoid that if we have the staff come back with more detailed information…. And then have the council make the decision.”
How about we stop the Valets from reserving spaces with orange cones in front of restaurants?? The whole idea of the valet is to free up space on Main St but they all claim 2-3 spots that remain empty most of the night.
If the places with valet parking put cones in multiple spaces, why can’t Frank & John’s have a “one-cone spot” until it’s figured out? I hear so many complaints about the misuse of valet parking. I think better rules for that practice should be put in place, too…at least temporarily until whatever study is completed.
I’m not sure hiring a consultant will tell us anything we do not know already. Parking in front of a particular restaurant is a convenience but the reality is that there is a lot of street parking a block up our down the hill from Main street. I think the right approach is to help these businesses.
Pick 5 spaces located strategically to those businesses on Main that do this kind of quick order run in and out business and be done with it. In a year, it will seem like it was always that way. Now you just have to decide how long to let them park and what hours to enforce it (10 minutes seems right maybe every day from 5pm to 11pm?).
The Valet parking is related but a separate issue.
Park up at the Swift Gym, Eldridge and maybe another spot and have a trolley run from 5pm to 9:30pm or 10:00pm. Mark 4 spots it stops at for pick up and drop off on Main Street. It would probably cost less than a consultant.
It is time to become active as concerned citizens and attend council meetings demanding solutions now…not two years from now. The solutions are there but no one wants to take responsibility. Remind them they were hired but can be fired.