Ridgefield to expand parking lot at recreation center

Parking, always more parking.
Town leaders hear the message and are acting, adding space at the Parks and Recreation Center to meet an increase in demand for the facility’s programs and trails.
Ridgefield has put expanding the rec center parking lot at 195 Danbury Road out to bid, according to Parks and Recreation Director Dennis DiPinto.
“We have one small project that’s finally gone to bid for 20-23 spots,” said DiPinto. The project will expand parking adjacent to the center near the far end of the athletic field.
A second parking lot expansion would add around 50 parking spots to the parking area that serves Founders Hall, the senior center adjacent to the recreation building.
DiPinto said that project will have to go before the town as a capital request in next year’s budget.
He said the second expansion is expected to cost around $210,000 or less, but that more engineering work is needed before a final cost can be determined.
The lot also serves joggers and dog walkers who use the gravel path that loops around the rec center.
“Additional parking is definitely a need,” said Phil Kearns, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission. “The success ... is a real positive for the town. However, these come with a need to accommodate expanded parking.”
A little relief
DiPinto said that since the Danbury Road bridge project has been completed, people utilizing the trail have been parking closer to the road rather than at the rec center.
“That’s given us a little relief in our parking area,” he said.
Adding more parking could eventually mean the town will have to install a traffic light at the Danbury Road entrance to the rec center and Founders Hall.
“On a new project, when parking exceeded 200 [spots] in the plans, a traffic study would be triggered to assess whether a light is needed or not,” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “Currently, with the widening the state performed most recently, a light may not be needed.”
He said the last traffic light added in town was at the Route 7 entrance to the Regency at Ridgefield and Laurel Ridge nursing home facilities. The light cost around $200,000 to install, a cost that was split among the various landowners, Marconi said.