Some spaces will continue to be set aside for 30-minute free parking to allow for pick-up of food and quick trips to businesses.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford has resumed charging for on-street parking in the Center and Blue Back Square, but will maintain 35 spaces for free, 30-minute parking in order to facilitate take-out and quick trips to local businesses.
Town Manager Matt Hart told We-Ha.com that the 35 spaces “have been disbursed to best serve merchants and restaurateurs,” and have been clearly indicated with signage and will be numbered for ease of identification for ease of curbside delivery.
The free spaces will be available daily between the hours of 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the town began to be felt in mid-March, the town suspended charging for on-street parking. At the time, restaurants were open only for take-out and many merchants offered only curbside pick-up – if they were open at all. The intent was to support the business community that was under extreme pressure, and to help encourage the general public “to patronize our our retailers and be able to pick up take-out from our restaurants in a timely way,” Hart said in March.
About 500 spaces were temporarily available free of charge, while parking in the town’s garages and surface lots continued to be associated with a fee. Free 30-minute parking has also continued to be, and will continue to be available in the Brace Road and Farmington Avenue surface lots.
Hart said that many other municipalities never stopped charging for parking throughout the pandemic, and the town’s Parking Fund has “taken a significant loss in revenues.”
The reason for returning to a fee basis is in part financial. The Parking Fund is separate from the General Fund and there are operations – including maintenance and trash removal – that depend on the revenue.
In addition, Hart said, “One of the reasons you have paid parking is to ensure turnover – so customers and visitors have a place to park. If someone camps out in those spaces you’re not serving those needs.”
Since businesses have reopened and restaurants are doing a more robust business with outdoor and limited indoor dining, the availability of parking spaces on the street has become an issue.
Parking may be paid for via the kiosks, and using the PassportParking app will allow paid parking to take place in a touchless manner, Hart said. According to Hart, the kiosks are cleaned daily with disinfectant.
Fees for on-street parking are in effect Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m.-10 p.m., and time is limited to two hours between 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The town’s overnight parking ban, which was due to expire on June 3o, has been extended through Sept. 30, Hart confirmed. There is no need to apply for an omit permit to park overnight on the street until Oct. 1.
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