Long awaited Stamford parking study on the way
STAMFORD — The city will take steps toward alleviating the often-agonizing search for a parking space here with a soon-to-begin study of the Stamford parking puzzle, casting light on the issue after years of trying to fit pieces together in the dark.
“There’s a lot we don’t know,” said Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing.
Officials have no real idea of the city’s parking supply and demand beyond U.S. Census Bureau estimates, guesswork, trade standards and resident anecdotes, Blessing said.
But that will start to change in 2019, he said, when the city kicks off the unprecedented study, which he has pushed for for more than a year.
The Land Use and Transportation bureaus are now refining a request for proposals for a city-wide inventory of parking spots and the demand for them.
“The study will include a lot of research ... we have to go really granular,” Blessing said.
Some areas have been surveyed, such as downtown, but Blessing said never to his knowledge have spots and cars in each neighborhood been counted and compiled into a bigger picture
Since 2017, the plan has trickled through bureaucracy, garnering zoning, finance and representative approval before it languished for a spell, unfunded. Blessing said the study will cost about $200,000.
“The money is not only approved, it’s actually bonded,” Blessing said proudly. “So I know it’s there.”
Although the city has yet to finish drilling down the scope of the study for its proposal request, Blessing said he has a good idea of what he needs to know.
“We want to see, on a neighborhood basis, what the demand actually is,” he said. “It’s really (about) providing enough spaces where we need them.”
Parking horror stories and anecdotes need to be assessed and weighed against empirical analysis and data, he said. The study could help city officials and the Zoning Board, which have often uncomfortably assessed parking pitches from developers hoping to provide fewer spaces than required, do just that.
“Planning has to be more data driven,” Blessing said.
Among the questions he wants answered: Are the parking problems in Glenbrook in Springdale caused by neighborhood crowding and new buildings or out-of-towners seeking free spots before a trip on the train?
Transportation Bureau Chief Jim Travers is meanwhile floating plans to change fees for street-side meters, parking garages and surface lots.
At the Glenbrook train station, for example, parking costs $3, the same it did in 1988.
Accounting for inflation, that same $3 now has the buying power of around $6.30. Travers is seeking an increase to $6.
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