WALLINGFORD — Stepping over weeds growing from pavement cracks and around vehicles disabled with flat tires, several town officials surveyed two downtown municipal parking lots this week.
They’re considering creating new rules aimed at discouraging long-term parking.
“Obviously, people are welcome to use the lots,” Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small, who organized the onsite meeting, said Wednesday, “but we don’t want somebody to just decide to use it, if they don’t have a garage, as a storage space. There was a boat out there, commercial vehicles, multiple vehicles owned by one person.”
The parking lots in question are Lot 2 and Lot 3, behind the buildings on Center Street. Lot 2 is between North Colony Road (Route 5) and Meadow Street. Lot 3 is between Meadow and William streets.
Both are a mix of public and private parking. The town-owned parking spaces are lined in green. White-lined spaces are private parking.
The group who surveyed the lots included Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., Police Chief William Wright, Public Works Director Rob Baltramaitis and Building Inspector Justin Rossetti.
Small said Wednesday she wanted to observe firsthand what kind of activity goes on in those lots. She saw several cars that have been parked for extended periods of time.
“We don’t really want the public parking lots to become somebody’s private
storage lot,” she said. “It’s not an overwhelming problem, so I just felt it was better to be onsite to just take a look at what kind of parking is open, what’s being used, does it look like some people are using it for other purposes.”
On Tuesday, police took note of a number of vehicles that were “clearly left for long periods of time,” Wright said Wednesday.
“We tagged those vehicles as abandoned, and as of (Wednesday) morning at least one of the vehicles had been removed,” he said.
Small said the group plans to discuss further new rules to discourage long-term parking.
A proposal to amend the town code chapter on vehicles and traffic would go before the Town Council Ordinance Committee in the fall at the earliest, she said.
Part of that conversation could include whether to apply the new rules to other town-owned lots, but they haven’t gotten that far yet, she said.
“These are ones that we own,” Small said. “There are some that we rent, which may put us in a bit of a different position.” Extended parking
On Wednesday, two cars with flat tires spent another day parked in Lot 3.
It’s unclear how long the vehicles had been left there, but vehicles with snow plows attached to the front and Early American license plates have been observed in the same green-lined spots in the same lot for months.
In Lot 2, a food truck was observed parked in a white-lined space, but obstructing the green-lined space directly behind it.
There is no timed parking in municipal lots, which is part of the problem behind Center Street, Wright said.
“Often times, there are vehicles that are inoperable that get left in the lots for extended periods of time, which creates issues for maintenance,” he said.
Any language added to the existing parking ordinance that would prohibit extended parking should benefit all who want or need to use the public lots, he said.
“We want to be very careful in what we add for language,” he said, “as we are keenly aware that many of the downtown residents use the public lots for everyday parking as their homes do not have off-street parking, and we do not want to impact their ability to park.”
Baltramaitis said his department doesn’t have any major construction projects planned right now for the two lots.
The vehicles left parked for extended periods, however, do cause problems with routine maintenance.
Engineering Department officials said Wednesday that they also don’t have any plans for the lots.
A project to turn the former Brothers Restaurant property at 33 N. Cherry St. into another downtown parking lot is in the design phase. The town bought the property in October 2018.