Letter: Parking is a critical component to the vitality of village businesses

To the Editor:

The following was read during Monday night's Annual Town Meeting and submitted to The Press as a letter.

I would like to address the Capital appropriation approved by the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance for the expansion of the Governor Street municipal lot that allows all day parking. The current lot is full to capacity during the week and serves as an additional lot for weekend events, such as this past weekend’s Spring Stroll and Country BBQ. It is also used to support all of the softball tournaments across the street that bring numerous visiting teams and their families into Ridgefield on weekends.

Parking is a critical component to the vitality of the businesses located in the Village. Currently, we have a shortage of parking on the East side of the Village between Governor, Bailey and Prospect Streets. We have a concentration of successful businesses, restaurants and offices that have high employee counts.

However, we have no dedicated free parking for the employees. As a consequence, they have to frequently leave their places of business to move their cars (which is strictly gaming the system) or they are ticketed and have to pay a fine. Some are allowed to buy parking permits which is an added expense for an hourly employee.

With employees having no option but to park in the regulated lots, residents and visitors that could support our economy are unable to find parking. The Bailey Avenue parking lot, that is surrounded by multiple, very popular businesses and restaurants, is filled to capacity every day by mid-morning.

The expansion of the Governor Street lot will add the additional spaces that we need to allow employees to park in close proximity to all of those businesses. All day and without enforcement. Plans are being discussed to connect the lot to the Prospect street side. Freeing up 60 spaces from that section of the Village is needed to sustain our economic development efforts.

It is important to note that the BOS approval of the request for funding requires the Parking Authority to develop a new permit process. Our Commission is collaborating with the Parking Authority and all stakeholders on the project. Until such a process is developed, and approved, the construction of the lot will not begin. This is not a Field of Dreams. We will build it and they will be incentivized to come.

The Economic and Community Development Commission along with the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance approves of this capital request and we are asking for your support this evening and at the ballot.

John Devine

Governor Street, May 8

Vice-Chair of the Economic and Community Development Commission