Merchants urge parking changes

Select Board to address Main St. issues

WILTON — Main Street parking is back up for discussion in Wilton, where congestion during the early evening hours has been a long-standing issue.

During a public hearing on the issue on Feb. 17, Elizabeth Castro and David Mickey of the Main Street Association presented the Select Board with a parking plan that had been discussed with multiple merchants whose businesses line the strip. They requested making the two-hour parking spots on Main Street into full-day parking spots, changing the current 30-minute spots to one-hour spots, and adding two 30-minute spots near Nelson’s Candy. Also, they requested that new signs be posted more clearly, directing drivers to the nearby free public parking next to the police station.

Mickey told the board that the feedback he had received while discussing parking needs with the downtown merchants indicated that people who don’t live in town don’t understand that free parking is available.

“We just need to guide people to the public parking as much as possible,” said Castro.

Dennis Markaverich, the owner of the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, said he was in favor of doing away with the two-hour time limit, especially because the rules are not clear. The two-hour restriction only applies during daylight hours, but his theater customers are often concerned about parking there during the evening, he said. However, he said he disagreed with putting a 30-minute spots at the end of the street, noting that every shop would want to tailor the spots in front of their storefront. Doing so would just open a can of worms, he felt. Additionally, he said, if a person has driven to Main Street for a particular purpose, they will find a place to park.

“If people are coming a long distance for a movie, or to eat at Roam [Cafe], they’ll take the parking they can get,” he said. When asked by the board if he was in favor of completely unrestricted parking on Main Street, Markaverich said he was.

“I don’t think parking should be singled out for anyone,” he said.

Mickey said that he would still like to see some limited parking, particularly some very short-term parking for customers taking out food or making quick stops. But any restricted parking of that nature would have to have signs at each spot, he said. The town’s current 30-minute spots only have two signs indicating the parking between them is 30 minutes, and people don’t always see those signs, he said.

“You have to know those signs are there,” he said.

Select Board member Bill Condra added that there has not been consistent enforcement of the two-hour parking in town. It does not make sense to have the rules if no one makes sure they are being followed, he noted. Resident Charlie McGettigan disagreed, however, noting that the two-hour parking had been enacted for a reason.

Markaverich said there had been times in the past, when the parking had been enforced, that he felt his theater customers were being targeted. Whatever the eventual decision on the parking, he said, he just wanted to see it consistently and evenly enforced.

Select Board Chair Dan Donovan noted that part of the parking problem is that main street shop owners park on the street, even though they are discouraged from doing so. Mickey indicated the Main Street Association would be willing to work with shop owners and perhaps create an incentive to parking off Main Street.

The Select Board tabled any decision regarding Main Street parking until a later meeting. The Select Board meets on Monday in the Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.

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