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Drafting a Solution to Belmont Center's Parking Woes

Parking meters, in-car meters, residential stickers: all those will be discussed Monday, Dec. 12.

There's no question that one of the ongoing issues vexing Belmont Center business owners and shoppers is the seeming haphazard parking landscape in the heart of the town's main retail and restaurant location.

But will a slew of parking meters and residential parking stickers produce a solution? How about more affordable employee parking?

And would you buy the parking meter equivalent of a Mass Pike EZ-Pass where instead of putting quarters or swipe a debit/credit card into a parking meter, shoppers or diners could use their cell phone to add time to an in-car meter?

To answer those and questions on the future of parking in Belmont, Jay Szklut, planning and economic development manager for Belmont's , will host a presentation and public forum on the draft Parking Management Plan for Belmont Center on Monday, Dec. 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Belmont Woman’s Club – the Homer House – at 661 Pleasant St.

The four goal plan is to provide convenient parking for customers and clients of Center businesses, while establishing clear Town and private employee parking areas, accommodate commuters, and to protect residential neighborhoods from spillover parking. 

To accomplish these goals, the plan recommends several strategies to be presented to the Board of Selectmen for adoption.

• Establish more convenient customer parking by introducing parking meters that accept debit/credit cards on Leonard Street and dropping the price to park in the Claflin Street lot, yielding a higher turnover of parking on Leonard Street translating to a greater availability of prime parking spaces. Related strategies would include a free 15 minute period on Leonard Street and a variety of parking rates to encourage use of Claflin Street lot.

• Introduce commuter parking by making use of in-car meters – very popular in Europe and was successful in Chicago until politics ended its run in the Windy City – to offer commuter parking on residential side streets. Fees collected would be dedicated to local neighborhood improvement fund. Permit parking on residential block must be approved by majority of block residents. Residents receive in-car meters free to take advantage of on street parking. 

• Revise employee permits by reducing the monthly permit price, creating an incentive to utilize the back of the Claflin Street lot for long-term parking thereby improving availability of closer customer spaces. An additional incentive would introduce in-car meters for permit holders.

• Improve pedestrian connections and signage including identifying and improve connections through one or more buildings between Leonard Street and the Claflin Street Lot working with willing land owners and possible making use of a dedicated 24/7 connection to be maintained by a parking fund.

The Parking Management Plan also outlines strategies relating to use of pay and display machines or pay by space machines – one meter serves multiple spaces – in-car meters (no paper permits), increasing parking supply through restriping of Claflin Street lot and use of additional on-street availability, installation of bike racks and modifying existing parking regulations.

Szklut said that residents comments on these and other recommendations is important before the recommendations are sent to the Board of Selectmen for adoption later in 2012. 

Join the OCD on Dec. 12 or email comments to jszklut@belmont-ma.gov.

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