In a public forum on the Downtown Burlington Parking changes late November, in which 50-60 area residents attended, feedback was given to the Public Works department. Desire for an interactive map outlining changes and discussion of a study on usage of residential parking areas were the main topics of the forum. Consultants in attendance presented findings from the study that office use drives parking demand during the week and retail drives demand on the weekends. The study also revealed pockets around Church street with over and under-utilized parking areas for residents. BBA member and local architect Richard Deane hoped that the findings will “help solve current issues about parking.” The revised parking fee structure is built to increase parking turnover. Burlington Public Works is inviting members of the public, as well as business owners, to share their feedback on the updated parking plan until December 14th.
Burlington Free Press – Parking is an emotional topic, Burlington Director of Public Works Chapin Spencer has said, and it showed when 50 to 60 area residents crowded into City Hall for a public forum on that topic last week.
Some came with specific grievances while others attended to give feedback about the changes to parking that had been made so far.
For this reporter in particular, who stands at 4 feet 9 inches, curiosity about the height of the parking meters and whether they might be lowered sparked interest in the meeting. (Many new meters are above the vision line of this reporter, even when on tiptoes.)
Suggestions from last Wednesday's meeting as well as on the interactive map available online will be used in forming an updated parking plan. The updated plan, slated to be drafted in January and finished by spring 2015, will focus on both downtown and residential parking.
While the downtown parking plan has been changing, Spencer said the residential parking plan has not been updated in decades. The goal of the study is producing a parking layout and guidelines that will last the city for years into the future, Spencer said.
“These are important conversations,” he said the morning after the forum. “The downtown should be a place for everybody, and while we are looking at marketplace pricing to create turnover in high-demand places, it doesn't mean that parking everywhere downtown should be priced to premium. We need to have variability and options so depending on who you are and what motivates you, there is a type of parking for you.”
A first wave of changes was enacted on Nov. 1. Parking rates for both garages and meters increased, and the time frame during which one would have to pay for metered parking is now enforced until 10 p.m. Also, meters that took both credit cards and coins were installed.
This year's changes are intended to beef up the city's depleted traffic fund with $493,000 in annual revenue, pay for critical parking garage repairs, and make the parking system more efficient and sustainable overall.
Newer versions of the card-enabled meters were installed by the DPW last week prior to the forum. Spencer said about two-thirds of meters downtown still accept coins only.