Commuter wait list thins out in response to newly implemented fee
Updated 12:00 am, Wednesday, January 4, 2017
NEW CANAAN — While the problem is not fixed, the newly implemented commuter parking wait-list fee appears to have greatly helped the problem.
For the first time, commuters wishing to remain on the wait-list were required to pay a $10 fee, a requirement the Board of Selectmen voted in favor of in May. It’s proven helpful, according to Interim Superintendent of the Parking Bureau Stacy Miltenberg.
“Very few people were angry, I could literally count on one hand how many were. There were far more people happy,” Miltenberg said.
Letters alerting those that were on the wait list — 1,281 in total — were sent on Sept. 9 to warn of the new fee. Letters sent with no response were followed up by calls from the Parking Bureau to ensure that all commuters understood the new policy and $10 fee. The system was modeled after the one recently implemented in Darien which has also helped to cut down the wait list.
“The original due date was Oct. 31 but the Parking Commission, with the support of the Board of Selectmen and Parking Bureau, extended the deadline to Dec. 15. Because this is a pilot program we wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to respond,” Miltenberg said.
As of Dec. 27, just 608 commuters previously on the wait list had chosen to submit their names meaning that, without counting potential newcomers, the list had been diminished by more than half.
“We always had a feeling that half the people on the list would not take a permit. This kind of showed us we were right,” Miltenberg said.
Still, Town Councilman Christa Kenin, who had advocated for more commuter parking, said the Town still has a long way to go, though she hopes the apparent success of the fee will spur the Town into greater action.
“It’s helpful to now have an accurate working number instead of the outdated figure. I’m hopeful this updated data will motivate our town officials to focus on this very important issue. Our commuters are the financial lifeblood of our local community. Let’s be frank, they do the heavy lifting to keep our economy afloat here in New Canaan. We need to address their needs first,” Kenin said last week via email.