Locust lot expansion delayed for two years
Published 5:44 pm, Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Finding a parking spot in downtown New Canaan will continue to be a hassle for at least another two years.
The Locust Avenue parking lot expansion project, which was expected to begin sooner, has been deferred to the 2016-17 fiscal year.
The Board of Finance cut the project from the 2014-15 budget proposal this month, and the Town Council, which is currently reviewing the budget requests, does not have the power to increase any of the town's budgets.
The main reason the board decided to delay the $3.3 million project is so the construction doesn't conflict with the Town Hall renovation.
Director of Public Works Michael Pastore said if the town starts working on the Locust Avenue lot while the Town Hall is under construction, there would be a worse parking deficit downtown. The Town Hall project is slated to be completed in spring 2015.
At a March 19 Town Council meeting, member Penny Young said she was concerned that the problem would be worse after Town Hall opens.
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"So you take all those Town Hall employees," Young asked Pastore, "and then you have all the people who currently park in Locust. Where are you going to put them?"
Pastore said the department still is looking into that issue, but he noted that the Locust Avenue lot project could take only six months.
The project, which was approved in June 2012, would turn the lot into a tiered structure, resulting in about 100 new spaces.
Town officials said the proposed parking deck would benefit the downtown merchants and business owners as well as free up parking behind the Town Hall, which could benefit the businesses on Main and Elm streets.
A 2012 study showed that New Canaan had a deficit of 300 parking spaces, compared to similar village settings. The Locust Avenue lot has 153 spaces, 125 of which are for permit holders. Twenty-eight spaces are metered.
Another reason for the delay was because the department has already bonded a $4.5 million project to rebuild and rehabilitate town roads over the next two years as part of the its pavement management program.
In December, the Town Council agreed to submit an application for a $500,000 state grant to be used toward the Locust Avenue lot. After the recent Board of Finance's budget cut, the town withdrew the grant application. However, Pastore said the town would resubmit an application for a different project.
"Locust is going to be built. It's a question of when," Pastore said.
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