OPINION: Parking problem in downtown Wallingford ?

OPINION: Parking problem in downtown Wallingford ?


Parking in downtown Wallingford has been a lively public subject forever — probably since the first automobile came into Wallingford. And perhaps the comment that most often comes up is that there isn’t enough of it.

But the problem really is one of perception rather than reality. A 2004 study written by former Town Planner Linda Bush, her staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission was published to address this perception problem. The conclusion drawn was that “there is more than adequate parking in the Central Business District at all times of the day.”

Two other conclusions drawn were: 1) “the majority of the parking is not visible, it is behind buildings”; and 2) “there are no indications in the parking areas which contain both public and private spaces, which ones are public and which ones are private.”

Well, as early as next week, visitors to downtown Wallingford will begin to see how these conclusions have been addressed.

As I have written before, the Wallingford Town Center Collaborative, working through Wallingford Center, Inc., has been addressing the parking issue. This group of residents who have a special interest in the health of our town center thought that addressing smaller aspects of a larger concern one at a time would result in attainable solutions that would make a difference. Their efforts, and those of Wallingford Center, Inc. are beginning to bear fruit.

Many of you may have noticed that nine public parking lots had been numbered some time ago. And recently, you should have noticed that all nine of these lots have been restriped in a lime green color. And every lot has been cleaned and the pavement repaired by Public Works.

What you will soon notice is that attractive, 20” x 30” signs are being installed by the Traffic Division of the Wallingford Police Department that will either identify the lots themselves or have arrows directing motorists toward these lots. They use the same lime green color to denote the public parking lots in order to show a cohesive connection between the signs and the lots, and each sign has a sponsor.

All of this work has been done through WCI. WCI purchased forty signs, and sold sponsorships for each sign to pay for the signs. Businesses located in the town center have a sponsorship for two years that costs $200. Businesses outside that district pay $300 for two years. The program has proved so popular that 36 of the 40 signs have been sponsored.

The Town Center Collaborative and WCI have had excellent cooperation from the Mayor’s office, the Town Planner, the Town Engineer, the Police Department and the Public Works Department. Each office and department has done its part to support this effort to improve the visibility of our public parking lots.

The Mayor’s office has coordinated efforts between town departments, the Town Engineer has worked to carefully delineate which are public and which are private spaces, and the Police Department is installing the signs. Public Works, working with the Police Department to get abandoned vehicles towed and the lots temporarily closed for maintenance and striping, have performed significant maintenance and supervised the striping.

So very soon, when you come into the center of Wallingford, you will find that indeed there is plenty of convenient parking. And in the near future, it is hoped that other small, attainable projects will be forthcoming that will enhance the experience of being in the center of this community. Stay tuned.

Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.

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