by Terry Rogers
At a recent workshop, Milford City Council heard from City Engineer James Puddicombe about several changes to parking lots and updates to streetscaping as part of the Capital Improvement Plan. The streetscaping and parking lot changes were currently in the design phase and will be brought before council in the next few months.
“The first is the North Washington Street streetscape,” Puddicombe said. “We requested an RFP for some design work that would include not only North Washington Street but also Southwest Front Street, Park Avenue and Denny Row which are all due for streetscapes in the next three years. What we want to do is provide a good level of consistency, so we are not getting wildly different location streets in the downtown area.”
The estimated cost for the North Washington Street streetscaping is $200,000 and the city hopes to cover the cost with grant funding. In addition to the streetscaping, the CIP also includes upgrades to the Park Avenue parking lot as well as one located on the corner of Northeast Front and Washington Streets. Councilman Brian Baer asked what upgrades were planned for Park Avenue.
“In looking back, it seems council just wanted us to reconfigure that parking lot because it is not the greatest of configurations,” Puddicombe said. “So, we are looking at basically pulling out the islands and getting that thing into a better working condition and also doing a streetscape on a next-door street. It may involve an entrance or something in addition to that, but I would expect there be some relatively substantial improvements to the parking layout.” Councilman Baer commended the upgrades, commenting that it was a parking lot that was difficult to maneuver.
Councilman Andy Fulton asked if there would be additional parking spaces in the lot once it was reconfigured.
“I don’t really because the parking study that was done for downtown showed an excess of parking,” Puddicombe said. “Now, when I say we wouldn’t probably increase the parking in that parking lot, that doesn’t mean overall parking might not go up slightly. If the streetscape calls for on-street parking on Park Avenue or something, those free parking areas can be offset a little bit and that’s part of the reason we want to look at this holistically. You don’t want to just take away parking spots right there and then not be able to offset them if they are needed. So, all in all, I would anticipate a balance, maybe a plus or minus a couple of spots, but or the most parts, those parking spots would remain or if they need to be removed, we would pick them up in another parking lot or nearby street area.”
The other parking lot that is listed as part of the CIP is located on the corner of Northeast Front and Washington Streets. Puddicombe explained that there were designs created before he began working with the city that included reconfiguring as well as the removal of some islands. He felt this lot could be configured for more spaces, but the main purpose was to make the traffic flow more fluid.
“I have a question about some of the streets which are very narrow and two-way,” Councilman Dan Marabello asked. “Are we thinking about possibly making some of them one way which will give us a better flow of traffic as well as more parking spaces?”
Puddicombe stated that a decision like that would be up to council and that the engineering department would create several options for council to review. He explained that if council felt a two-way street should become one-way, they could make that decision. Councilman Baer suggested that the parking lot at Northeast Front and Washington Street be given a higher priority as it was located on a street where many people traveled into or through Milford.
The cost for all the parking lot upgrades is estimated at $200,000 but there is not a funding source identified at this time.
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