On Street Parking in Greenwich: The Last Frontier

What’s the saying? “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain.

The same could be said for on-street parking, an increasingly scarce resource in Greenwich, especially with 8-30g affordable housing developments that typically include just one parking spot per unit.

This was part of the argument at last week’s P&Z meeting in support of a parking lot for 8 cars on the back yard of a mixed-use building at 140 Hamilton Ave that would feature a 23-foot wide curb cut for egress onto Charles Street.

Many neighborhoods with limited on-street parking request residential permit parking programs, but it’s not automatic. Parking Services oversees the scarce resource even as they receive many requests for new residential parking permit programs.

Bruce Park Ave – Central Greenwich

At last Thursday’s Selectmen meeting, one group of neighbors opposed a proposal to remove 7 on-street parking spots from Bruce Park Ave.

Deputy Chief Kraig Gray who oversees Parking Services said some residents had complained that it’s dangerous to walk along the dead end, and described it as a “long brewing issue.”

DPW Engineer Michael Kiselak noted Bruce Park Ave features a curve and a hill that limit sight lines. He said DPW conducted a ‘stopping sight distance study,’ which considers the distance a vehicle needs to see and to identify an object and come to a safe stop.

“You have blind spots until you reach the top of the curve. That coupled with the narrowness of the road and the on-street parking – the road is less than 20 feet wide in some spots, which is less than we like for two lanes without on-street parking,” Kiselak said, adding that the recommendation was to eliminate on-street parking for a 280-ft segment of Bruce Park Ave (140 ft on each side of the curve) for a total of 7 spots.

Two family house with no driveway at 287 Bruce Park Ave. Tenants rely on on-street parking on the opposite side of the street, which DPW proposes to remove. The ledge in front of the house is owned by the town.
Bruce Park Ave, crest of hill, looking toward the dead end.
Bruce Park Ave, crest of hill, looking toward intersection with Davis Ave.

First Selectman Fred Camillo asked where would the residents without a driveway put their cars if 7 spots were removed.

Kiselak said the recommendation was based on safety.

Patti Thibault Hopper, who was at the meeting with three of her brothers, said their family had owned 287 Bruce Park Ave, a two-family house, since 1962, and relied on the rental income from the property, which has no driveway.

She noted the town owns the majority of front of the property which features steep ledge.

“Where will the tenants park?” she asked.

“We drive slow and we’ve never heard of anyone having a problem with the road,” she continued, adding that she’d obtained crash history in the neighborhood and there had been no crashes on the hill.

Barbara Zappavigna from 292 Bruce Park Ave thanked Camillo and DPW for meeting with residents. She said signage indicating the road was dead end should be more prevalent, and often times drivers wrongly assume the road is a cut through to I95.

“Seven spaces is a lot to take away on that street. People struggle now to find parking,” she said. “I understand what my neighbors are going through, and I feel for them.”

Jessica Wieneke of 310 Bruce Park Ave said there was no way to walk up the crest of the hill safely because there is no sidewalk. She said workers for the businesses in the area of Davis Ave including the auto body shop take up the on street parking.

The proposal was a first read.

Camillo said they would explore possible changes in signage or reclaiming some of the ledge in front of 287 Bruce Park Ave.

This is not the first time in recent memory that the town proposed to remove on street parking and met resistance from residents.

Perna Lane – Riverside

Last June, Deputy Chief Gray proposed an ordinance to remove on-street parking on Perna Lane, a popular short cut in Riverside.

Issues started with poor sight lines at the 90° bend in the road at the southern end, but also the roadway isn’t wide enough for on street parking without forcing drivers to cross over into the oncoming lane of traffic.

Residents came out in droves to oppose the proposal.

They said some of their driveways dated to the 1950’s and were only wide enough for a single car. Some had created cut-outs in front of their houses to park their cars. One person suggested parked cars served as a traffic calming measure. They said they needed parking for guests, workers and visiting family members.

That ordinance was not pursued.

Signage has been added to match an existing ordinance limiting on street parking to residents during certain hours on Evaristo between Artic and Charles.

Josephine Evaristo Ave – Chickahominy

Last week, at the Selectmen meeting, DC Gray presented a proposal to reverse part of a residential permit program in Chickahominy, which he said was in response to resident requests.

“This was at the behest of a group of residents in that area,” Gray explained. “The residents found it was something they weren’t interested in.”

DC Gray said Parking Services was always in favor of returning as much of the parking to the public as possible.

He said Parking Services had received one letter in favor and one against.

In one letter, Laurie Tischler was in favor of the residential program between Artic and Charles Street.

She said there were too many vehicles that park on the street for days, and are owned by many who are not tenants or homeowners.

A letter from Lauren Wasserman said she rented part of a two-family house on Evaristo and supported the revised ordinance. She said her family, friends and household help rely on on-street parking.

Josephine Evaristo is Zone 6. Each household is eligible to obtain a parking sticker and 2 visitor passes as long as they provide the required documentation. If a household has multiple cars, they can submit an application /  receive 1 pass / sticker, per vehicle, but ONLY two (2) visitor passes are provided to the first pass issued to that household.

The background for the request is that an ordinance to restrict parking on Evaristo was approved 10 years ago, but the signage didn’t match the ordinance. Specifically, the town only put up residential parking signs from the Post Road to Artic in response to neighbors complaining that car dealership employees were parking on their residential street.

The ordinance was for the entire road, but the signage stopped at Artic.

When the signs were recently updated to match the ordinance, some residents balked.

A petition initiated by Sylvester Pecora of 14 Charles Street was signed by residents do not want the residential parking program on that last block of Evaristo, that dead ends at Charles Street.

Pecora said,”We own many houses on Charles Street and Hamilton Avenue, and it would help the community as a whole for eliminating those (residential parking) signs.”

The first dozen of the 26 who signed Pecora’s petition (explanation below) have Charles Street addresses. Others had Evaristo addresses or were members of RTM District 3, including district chair Ed Lopez.

The Evaristo item was a first read and will return to the Selectmen in two weeks.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to include details on stickers and guest passes for Evaristo residents who are in Zone 6.

See also: Proposed Parking Lot on Lawn Behind Mixed-Use Property in Chickahominy Stirs the Pot