EDITORIAL: Don’t change downtown parking

  • Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:13PM

While we are looking forward to the opening of the new parking lot in downtown Peterborough, we are dismayed to hear that as it opens to the public this fall, town officials want to push downtown employee parking into it.

According to our front page story today by reporter Nicholas Handy, “The 57-space parking lot is currently being constructed on Grove Street behind the G.A.R. Hall, the current home of Post and Beam Brewing.”

This is great news, and adding new parking spaces to downtown will give Peterborough a much-needed edge when events come to town like October’s Peak into Peterborough.

However, we think the new parking spaces should be for overflow parking, and not just for workers, especially during relatively quiet times of the year.

Handy’s story goes on to inform us that tonight the Peterborough Select Board plan to hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. “to consider making Riverwalk a 24-hour lot and to reduce the Wall Street parking lot time restriction from 24 hours to four.”

Riverwalk is the new parking lot currently under construction. And in language everyone understands, “The Wall Street lot” is the movie theater parking lot that is mostly all day parking.

A quick and unscientific poll of this news in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript office on Monday drew shock and disbelief from employees ranging from “that’s crazy” to “that’s unfair” to the topper, “In a blizzard! I don’t think so.” One, however, expressed relief that he won’t need to drive around town three times to find a spot.

This started a conversation as to just how these workers would get to their office on a dark, icy, snow-packed morning, the kind of morning most business and restaurant patrons would opt to stay home anyway.

Workers are consumers, too. We are the ones who each lunch downtown everyday, even in the winter when the snowbirds are away and the summer residents are back home. We’d bet, in fact, that downtown workers are Peterborough’s most loyal shoppers.

We know there will be days downtown workers will want to park at the Riverwalk parking lot because it’s a nice day and we want the exercise. Some will park there to have a spot safe from tickets and the aggravation of finding parking.

But we think the town should consider alternatives – like seasonal parking designations. Seasonally opposite to winter parking bans, this would have downtown employees parking across the bridge in the summer and fall months when downtown traffic, and competition for parking spaces, is at its height. This assumes, though, that summer visitors don’t want to end a shopping spree at the Post & Beam or Ava Marie’s for a pint and brings us to the other obvious option: wait and see how it goes. People may self-select. Some will want to walk and others not so much. If it becomes an issue, we can look at a seasonal regulation. Truth is, no one wants to walk a distance through snow or walk back to our cars in the dark at night.