In his last week on the job before retiring, Deputy Chief Mark Marino recommended to the Board of Selectmen that on-street parking be removed on a stretch of lower North Street between Lita and Maple/NorthMaple/Patterson.
Marino, who headed Parking Services, which will now be turned over to newly promoted Deputy Chief Kraig Gray, said the request stemmed from an email from a resident.
Marino said the resident who wrote the letter was concerned that cars parked on the street caused line of sight issues for people exiting one or two driveways in particular, but that in general, parking on North Street was not a problem.
“Rarely do you ever see any cars parked anywhere along North Street, with the exception of this one particular area,” Marino said. “I believe it was overflow from one of the schools in the area.”
He said in this particular stretch there was enough space between the white line along the border of the roadway and the curb to “barely” allow a few cars to park along the road.
Engineers from the Dept of Public Works agreed there were significant line of sight issues for the driveways.
Marino doubted the town had ever intended to allow on-street parking on this stretch of North Street, and that just a bit further north there was a no parking ordinance between Andrews Road and Lita Drive.
Marino said he had sent a letter on May 17 to roughly 25 residences on North Street between Lita and Maple/North Maple/Patterson, and that 10 days had transpired.
He said he had received two phone calls in response – one from a resident who was supportive of the proposal, and one from a resident with concerns that he might occasionally need to park on the street or need to accommodate a contractor.
First Selectman Fred Camillo agreed with Deputy Chief Marino, saying that residents impacted could park on a side street or, in a pinch, ask a neighbor to use their driveway.
Selectperson Jill Oberlander said giving residents just one week to respond to the notification was insufficient, especially considering an earlier discussion during the meeting about giving residents three months to respond to an opportunity to renew their downtown parking permits.
She said if the problem was with school employees or students parking on North Street, then it might be worth considering a parking restriction from 7:00am to 9:00am or 9:30am.
Marino said that might be valuable, but would not solve the line of sight problem.
Oberlander asked if the Selectmen could wait for a line of sight analysis before voting.
“Parking is the number one issue that we hear frustration about, and usually it’s the lack of parking,” Oberlander said.
Deputy Chief Marino said he always took a conservative approach when it came to eliminating parking but, but that this stretch of North Street was congested and featured curves.
“Nobody knows how to behave at that triple stop sign at Patterson, North Maple and North Street. I think people need to go back to driving school,” said Selectwoman Lauren Rabin. “Having cars parked there just aggravates people’s inability to follow the rules of the road at stops signs in general.”
“This is a public safety issue,” Camillo said. “This is not a parking situation we see in business districts. It’s a dangerous curve there.”
Oberlander said given there were only 10 days since the letters had sent, and given it is very busy time of year, she requested holding off on voting until the June 10 Selectmen meeting so that residents had more time to respond.
“I’m always looking for the least restrictive opportunity,” Oberlander said.
“We all are, but I’m more focused on the issue of pubic safety,” Camillo said.
Camillo said he was familiar with the stretch of North Street and was ready to vote, but was willing to wait two weeks for a sight line depiction of the curve in the road.
Ms Rabin said she was familiar with the stretch of lower North Street and had seen the cars parked there, but was happy to give an extension for neighbors to respond with feedback.
“What we might find in two weeks is maybe we’ll get letters or comments from numerous residents. If they were not aware we were about to make a no parking zone in front of their house, that will give them an opportunity to say no,” Oberlander said. “Let’s not be hasty.”
Oberlander asked if there had recently been an accident there due to parking.
“None that I can contribute to at this time,” Marino said, but he added there was a significant enough line of sight issue when there are cars parked there to warrant the no parking zone.
The Selectmen did not vote on the proposal. DPW Deputy Commissioner Jim Michel said that his department could provide a line of sight documentation in time for the next meeting, which is on June 10.