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Berlin officials will look into downtown parking problems

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Dec. 21, 2017) Hoping to address parking concerns downtown, Berlin officials are considering the inclusion of a parking study in the next fiscal year’s budget.

“There’s lots of conversations going on around parking and the need for additional parking,” Town Administrator Laura Allen said. “The town is looking at the budget process and the budget cycle that’s coming up for fiscal year 2019, and what I’m recommending to the mayor at this point is that we put some money in the budget next year for parking analysis to determine the extent to which we need additional parking and get a detailed description of what the issue really is.”

Allen said “anecdotal perspectives” are available, but not much in the way of analysis.

“I’ve had some people tell me they can’t park in what I call the primary parking lot or the Taylor Bank parking lot. They can’t park there to get to work [or] they come to town for lunch and they can’t find parking,” she said. “To what extent that’s happening year-round versus during the summer months, I’m not sure.”

She recommended having engineers come in during the summer “when parking is at its most challenging.”

“I think the question really is how much parking do we need, to what extent is the town going to grow, and what kind of parking or how much parking makes sense now versus in the future?” Allen said. “We’ve got a requirement to update our comprehensive plan, which would focus on grow and include parking in the next fiscal year, so the thinking is to fold the parking discussion in, with a lot of detail, and make it part of that conversation that would start after the beginning of the year.”

Planning Director Dave Engelhart, during a planning commission meeting last Wednesday, said a parking garage was discussed as a possible solution.

“I understand you’ve had that discussion in the past, before my time here,” he said. “We’re looking into a grant right now with the Smart Growth Initiative with the state [and] part of that would be a parking study.”