Chester Officials Review Village Parking Problem
With a recent revision of the town’s parking ordinance and a full policing staff, Chester officials are looking at the ongoing issue of parking in the village center.
“We have a parking problem in our downtown area and we don’t have an immediate solution,” said First Selectman Lauren Gister. “The Board of Selectmen have discussed the problem at length and we are trying to find a fair way to deal with the situation. People in town, especially those that work and live downtown, need to be respectful of the parking signs and the parking hour limits. This problem is affecting our merchants, which are the economic hub of our town.”
Gister recommends more people park in the designated public parking areas such as Laurel Hill Cemetery, Maple Street, and the Water Street parking lots.
“We have talked to the business owners and landlords in the downtown area and asked them to tell their employees and tenants that the on-street, downtown parking places are not for long term use,” said Gister.
Lark owner and Chester Merchants Group facilitator Suzie Woodward said that the Chester merchants work to make the downtown area of Chester a destination and a place where people want to come, spend time, and shop and although most of the time there’s not a huge parking problem, there are times when people don’t respect the signs and spend more than two hours in one space.
“I think we’re all hoping that people will be a little more respectful of one another and if they know they are planning to be more than two hours, then they should plan to park in one of the public parking lots,” said Woodward. “When people go shopping at malls, they do have to walk, so parking in public parking lots here is not that far away.”
The parking tickets given out in Chester are not as costly as state-issued tickets. Gister explained that if town tickets are not paid, then the town has the right to issue a state ticket at a higher fine. She also explained that although sparse parking has been a constant in town, in former years, when there was not a full staff of police in town, the parking issues were not given as much attention as they currently are getting and that maybe why some residents feel that they are being targeted now.
“We are not looking to come down on people, we just want everyone to be fair and respectful,” said Gister.
The town recently voted to repeal, restate, and amend the Ordinance Regarding Hearing Procedure for Citations and Other Fines. The purpose of this restatement is to provide detailed and clear information to the public regarding the citation and hearing process rather than just a reference to the State Statute provisions.