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Downtown parking plans progress slowly

by | Dec 11, 2019 | News

As the town grows, parking spaces downtown have become more scarce.

Plans are in the works to ease the parking crunch, but it will take time, Town Manager Norman Khumalo said.

In May, Town Meeting voters approved the town’s purchase of 6 Walcott St. with 32 spaces that could be used for Town Hall. Also in the works is a municipal lot with 30 spaces at 25-35 Main St. as part of a 12-condominium complex to be developed by Chuck Joseph.

These moves, Khumalo said, are “an acknowledgement of the increased need for parking.”

The owners of 6 Walcott St. need to find an alternative location for their business, J.D. Marquedant & Associates (land surveyors), before that property can be converted to parking.

The town plan to purchase the property for parking was contingent on the owners first finding a new location for their business. No timeline has been stated for this step.

Additional spaces also are set for the condo project at 25-35 Main St. that would include 30 municipal parking spots.

Joseph, the project’s developer, said he will be “filing soon” plans for the project.

The timing of the project depends on when he can go before Planning Board and how the process moves, Joseph said.

The need for parking is an important driver of the project, he added.

“We wouldn’t have proposed a parking lot if we didn’t think the town has a need” for it, Joseph said.

While this additional parking remains on the drawing board, Khumalo urges residents to find on-street spaces while visiting downtown.

One place they shouldn’t be parking is in the lot behind Bill’s Pizzeria and Grille, located next to Town Hall and often viewed as de facto parking for Town Hall visitors.

“I would like to remind people that the lot behind Bill’s Pizzeria is a private lot that is for patrons of Bill’s only,” said Zacharias Siarkos, owner of the business.

“I know for many years we have allowed the town, the bank and general downtown visitors to park in our lot, but the town is much bigger and parking has become scarce.”

The situation, he said, has “reached the point where our customers can’t find parking some nights.”

The Select Board makes an announcement at the start of each meeting at Town Hall warning attendees to move their vehicles if they parked in the Bill’s lot, or risk being towed.

Siarkos “has been a good neighbor and accommodated the town’s needs,’’ Khumalo said. “We would like that relationship to continue.”

But, Khumalo said, “he has a business to run” and needs parking for his own customers.

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