At the May 25 Board of Selectmen meeting residents described parking problems on Grigg Street where double-parking is rampant and both cars and trucks park on the sidewalk.
Grigg Street is a narrow one-way street that comes off Greenwich Avenue and connects to Arch Street. There are two 15-minute parking spots in front of 1 Grigg Street, but cars are often parked in them much longer, and other cars double-park next to them, blocking the flow of traffic.
Kim Isztwan said she was the only resident-owner on the street, which has a combination of residential and commercial properties.
She said the problems were longstanding but that since Covid, the double parking had worsened.
With restaurants unfurling their outdoor dining for the season, rows of parking spaces on Greenwich Ave are not available for use. During the February 23 Selectmen meeting, there was a discussion of outdoor dining guidelines. Margo O’Brien, daughter of Dianne Garrett of Diane’s Books on Grigg Street, complained about the loss of parking spots to create outdoor dining, saying that her customers were challenged to find a place to park.
“It’s some kind of overflow from Greenwich Avenue,” Isztwan explained, adding that the double-parked vehicles included 18-wheelers, Urber drivers, and people picking up restaurant takeout.
The corners of the Grigg Street intersection with Greenwich Ave include popular restaurants Meli-Melo and Mediterraneo. Also popular is Grigg Street Pizza, located at 1 Grigg Street and CFCF coffee shop at 6 Grigg Street.
“It’s a safety issue,” Isztwan said. “There have been numerous times when a car is coming from either direction on the sidewalk, to where I have to put a cone out in front of my front steps, in the curb cut, so that people don’t come up on the curb, continue past my front steps and then come off the other end of the curb.”
She asked for a solution to prevent people from parking on the sidewalk, deter double parking on the street and to keep the traffic flowing.
“Certain times of the day a fire truck or ambulance can’t get down the street,” she added. “There are a lot of safety considerations. People with dogs or baby strollers have to go out into oncoming traffic rather than the sidewalk when it’s blocked by a car or truck.”
Kathryn Bartunek, a resident of 21 Grigg Street, described the transportation on street as “a mess.”
Bartunek, who has spent 17 years in safety, security and transportation engineering, including with a focus on city planning, said the situation had caused discontent between local business owners, made residents feel taken advantage of, and deterred once regular customers from traveling to Greenwich.
“I’ve witnessed on Grigg Street a disregard by personal vehicle owners and commercial truck operators for private property lines, disregard of the intent for sidewalks to provide designated safe space for foot traffic and accessibility, and disregard for parking enforcement activities by our city’s law enforcement and parking officers. I’ve witnessed blocking of driveways for 20 minutes, and I’m concerned the impact this would have in an emergency situation. I’m regularly required to use the street to access my building.”
Further, she said the safety and accessibility issues extended beyond residents of Grigg Street to impact residents of the Mews on Bolling Place.
She suggested installing bollards or stanchions connected by chains between driveways.
First Selectman Camillo said the board was “open to anything that improves the quality of life for you and allows the economic activity to flow without negatively impacting you.”
Selectwoman Lauren Rabin said she had witnessed the problem herself on both weekdays and weekends, and was supportive of trying to come up with solutions.
Greenwich Deputy Police Chief Kraig Gray, who also serves as the Director of Parking Services, said they his department was “painfully aware” of the problem and that he empathized with the concerns raised.
However, he said, “We can’t enforce our way out of this issue. We can’t station a police officer or parking enforcement officer there all day every day, because it really is a constant flow issue. Even a ticket blitz would only last so long.”
Deputy Chief Gray agreed there might be other options available, including enhanced environmental design.
“Everyone on Greenwich Avenue has made complaints about improper parkers, lack of parking for temporary purposes, and people coming and going who think it doesn’t matter and double-park.”
He said his department was working on a strategic plan that might alleviate some of the issues on Grigg Street.
Mr. Camillo said he would follow up with the two Grigg Street residents who testified.
After the meeting, on Tuesday, reached by phone, Deputy Chief Gray said that Parking Services and Greenwich Police respond to not only complaints of residents, but also initiate its own enforcement action on that street.
“We do it regularly. We recognize the difficulty in short term parking on the bottom of the Ave and continue to explore ways to improve parking utilization on the entire Avenue.”