By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Last Tuesday, Julia Prange Wallerce, chairman of the Transportation Advisory Committee, and committee member Mike DiLisio, town parking clerk, presented the findings of a center business district parking-study conducted by her committee to the Town Council Economic Development Committee and the TAC.
Wallerce said first, the study found 563 spaces in the center business district, which encompasses Pauline Street, Woodside Avenue, Bartlett Road, Somerset, a portion of Cottage Park Road, Hagman Road, Putnam Street, and Jefferson Street.
Of those spaces 210 were private, off-street parking spots. The study also noted parking during certain times of the day and certain days of the week.
One goal of the committee was to find out how parking facilities in the CBD are being utilized in order to identify management solutions that maximize access while also enabling economic development. The study included all parked cars on streets and in public and private parking lots.
The study found that overall, the parking facilities in center business district are underutilized.
“The parking problems we are perceiving have little to do with parking supply and more to do with how it is managed and accessed,” said Julia Wallerce, Transportation Committee Chair. “The bulk of our underutilized parking spaces are in privately owned lots.”
The study suggests that shared parking agreements that are win/win for property owner & town
Letting people know where the parking is is key. Wallerce shared examples of signage in Salem, Northfield and other communities like Lexington, the town even offers a printable parking map on the town website. The study also discussed traffic calming measures in other cities such as Medford, where “bump-outs” were used to guide traffic but also to provide spaces for sitting outside. The importance of public transportation in the grand scheme of things was also discussed.
General potential solutions for parking include signs and information, marking all the parking lots, update the time limits parking and mark them consistently.
Improving access to parking facilities, making the areas more walkable with sidewalk connectivity between parking facilities and businesses and homes were also looked at.
Tuesday night Wallerce was expected to make a presentation to the council about the study.