Able-bodied people going to free concerts can walk a block or two to Ballard Park — that’s the Parking Authority’s take on the situation.

While there will be exceptions for the handicapped and “physically challenged seniors” — as well as a drop-off area available to all — the Parking Authority has issued a policy restricting parking in the lots immediately adjacent to Ballard Park for this summer’s Tuesday and Thursday night CHIRP concerts.

A statement from Parking Authority Chairman Chris Fusaro this week focused on two adjacent parking areas just south of the park — the CVS lot and the adjoining Addessi lot — and it was specifically addressed to “the attendees of the CHIRP Summer Concerts that are offered for free in Ballard Park.”

He outlined the following policy guidelines:

  • There will be no concert parking allowed in the CVS lot or Addessi Center lot this season.

Exceptions will be:

  • Handicapped.
  • Physically challenged senior citizens.
  • People patronizing the restaurants and businesses that are open evenings before and during the concerts.

“There will be Enforcement Officers stationed in the CVS and Addessi lots to keep the lots accessible for the patrons of the businesses that rely on the parking lot availability for their livelihood,” Fusaro’s statement said.

“People can drop off at the park entrance where the ice cream truck usually parks, and then proceed to alternate parking which is conveniently located just a short walk away,” Fusaro said.

Links and signs

Signs on Bailey Avenue and Governor Street will direct people to free parking available off those streets “only a short walk to the free concerts,” the Parking Authority said.

“When the concerts end at 9 p.m., the enforcement officers will open the lot back up for regular parking,” Fusaro’s statement said.

There are plans to have links on the websites of CHIRP, the Parking Authority and the town Economic and Community Development Commission that will display parking lot diagrams showing lots where open parking is available.

The statement lists four lots where “concert attendees” can park for free: the town lots of Bailey Avenue, behind Town Hall, and off Governor Street, and also the Donnelly lot off Governor Street.

Coverage

The Parking Authority statement notes that “the Donnelly lot is a private lot that is overseen by the Parking Authority, and has extended the use of their lot to the community for concert parking, with usual regulations still applicable, such as no overnight parking, etc. If the business plan for tenants of the Donnelly lot should change and they require parking for their tenants at night, this offer may be modified.”

It adds, “The Parking Authority does not oversee the Library or Prospector lots so we can only suggest that you note that people should not park in the Library or the Prospector lot since they are open many evenings and need their spaces for their patrons.

“Any private lot owners in town that would like to offer their property for usage by the concert attendees are encouraged to contact CHIRP.”

Questions

Selectwoman Barbara Manners, who is the head of CHIRP and organizer of the concerts, gave the Parking Authority’s plan a mixed review.

“I question why the Parking Authority is paying enforcement officers, out of town taxes, to prevent the community from parking in what are by this decision effectively private parking lots,” she said. “If there had been a compromise worked out accommodating both tenants and concertgoers needs, I would understand. But this effectively makes these private lots at those times. It seems to me the landlord should be paying for its own enforcement. The town’s taxpayers should not.

“I would hope that the landlord is open for reconsideration and discussion.”

Other locations

After exploring a plan to relocate some concerts to a site behind the town Recreation Center off Danbury Road, the estimated $23,000 cost was judged too expensive, and the selectmen expect to have all this summer’s concerts in the park, awaiting a probable move to the former Schlumberger property next summer after completion of landscaping and parking renovations at the Philip Johnson building and Schlumberger theater.

But First Selectman Rudy Marconi said the town is still open to another potential location for some concerts.

“We continue to explore a location for Thursday night concerts other than the park,” he said. “But as we continue to work on the Schlumberger property as a location for outdoor concert events, it does not make financial sense to invest dollars in a location that is temporary, for one year only. And it is expected that the Schlumberger property will be available for next year.”