Review of Tanner Street Urban Renewal Plan by DPD. Extends from Plain Street to Gorham Street. Includes modifications to the Lowell Connector to calm traffic, especially near its end at Gorham Street. Most of the development along Tanner Street would be industrial with some retail. One physical change would be a reconfiguration the Tanner and Plain Street intersection so that Tanner Street connects with Plain opposite the entrance to Target. DPD suggests the subcommittee recommend that a public hearing on the plan be scheduled for April 15, 2014.
Councilor Bill Martin asks about the Silresim site recalling that the EPA said it would be 20-30 years until you could deal with Silresim. That time as passed now so what’s the plan for that site. DPD says one portion is ready for redevelopment but that another still has an active ground water treatment so that’s not ready to be developed.
Councilor Kennedy asks about cost of reconfiguring Tanner Street. DPD estimate says between $1mil and $1.5 mil but there would need to be subsurface engineering work. This also doesn’t include the costs of land acquisition by eminent domain. Kennedy also asks about the elevation of the Lowell Connector, that it’s elevated to clear obstacles like Plain street and the railroad track. DPD says that was part of the original plan but it is now deemed not to be feasible. The more practical alternative is to narrow the width of the lanes and plant some trees to signal to drivers that you’re entering an urban area.
Subcommittee votes to make the public hearing recommendation to the full city council.
City Manager Geary recalls some factors identified by Adam Baacke before he left. It’s a balancing of convenience for customers, a loss of revenue and other factors and that a consultant should be hired to study this issue and report back to the city.
The (new) Parking Director is present (Mr. Troupe?). He says the job posting for two new parking people on a shift that lasted until 6pm was not designed for downtown enforcement but mostly for enforcement of “residents only” parking in the neighborhoods. Residents return home and can’t find a place to park because non-stickered cars are occupying resident-only spots. Councilor Belanger reiterates his opposition to ticketing cars in the downtown up until 6pm. Doing that, he says, would be “devastating” to businesses. (Ed. Note: The parking ordinance says meter parking will be enforced until 6pm but up until now the enforcement clerks go off duty earlier so no one gets tickets after 4pm – no one is talking about changing the ordinance to reflect reality). Mr. Troupe says if there is ticketing going on after 4pm on Middlesex Street, it’s not being done by parking enforcement officers. City Manager Geary recommends a consultant be hired to do a comprehensive study (that would be paid out of the parking fund).
Councilor Kennedy asks about revenue from new meters on Fr Morrissette Blvd. Mr. Troupe says no one is parking there but they are doing a lot of outreach to make it more attractive to use them. Both the University and owners of Wannalancit Mills have approached city about making more use of those spaces. Also says the winter has made these spaces unattractive.
Kennedy then picks up on a comment Troupe made about the parking consultant working with businesses to understand how parking enforcement benefits businesses. Kennedy asks about something like offering 2 hours of free parking. Troupe says the professional organization he belongs to feels strongly that paid curbside parking is most beneficial to business. Kennedy says that part of proper enforcement includes paying attention to the retailers in the area. He cites Eliot’s Hot Dogs as being harmed by people getting parking tickets while buying hot dogs. Asks Troupe what he thinks about that. Troupe says new kiosks only replaced existing coin meters so the kiosks have not created a new situation. Kennedy expressly states that meter enforcement persons should not give tickets to people in violation parked outside of a place like Eliot’s at least the first time they go past because giving them a ticket will keep them from coming back [Ed. Note: Why doesn’t the customer put a quarter in the meter?]. Troupe says giving parking clerks that kind of leeway would create chaos on the streets.
Councilor Martin moves to follow the recommendation that a consultant be hired an make a report and then look at amending the ordinance.
Subcommittee adjourns at 6:41 pm.