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Board will hear residents' thoughts on parking

August 05, 2009
TILTON — The Tilton selectmen will hold a public hearing regarding a proposed parking ordinance that would require residents living in downtown apartments to park in one of several designated lots near the Central Street fire station.

The purpose of the ordinance is to free up parking on Main Street for customers of downtown businesses. Along with resident parking, there would also be designated spots in the Central Street vicinity for merchants and employees.

The details are far from being sorted out, based on the most recent Board of Selectmen meeting that had Chair Katherine Dawson and Vince Paratore from the Main Street Program debating how many designated parking spots are needed before the ordinance is put into effect.

"If we don't allocate spaces for each apartment, then we're gonna be in trouble," Dawson said. "You can't predict which apartments are going to have cars."

Paratore, who helped create the parking plan, said there was no need to know how many apartments there are downtown, because it would make more sense to give stickers to all residents with registered cars. But Dawson wondered what would happen if the town ends up in a situation where they're giving out more parking stickers than there are spaces.

"We need to know how many potential registered cars there are," she said.

The town is currently working with the owner of the area behind Northway Bank to negotiate a lease agreement so the town can use the lot for resident parking. In return, the town would maintain the area, plowing it in the winter and striping the parking spots.

Meanwhile, the Tilton-Northfield Fire Commission has said it would be willing to let the town use the small plot of land directly behind the station if it gets paved immediately. There is also another privately owned area that the selectmen considered buying or leasing, but no action has been taken.

The numbers weren't solid, but there appear to be approximately 55 parking spaces available for 24-hour use. Paratore said that in recent weeks, an average of 24 to 26 cars were parked downtown overnight.

"I think we have more than enough to start," Selectman Norm Boudreau said.

"I don't think you can say that until you know how many apartments we have," Dawson replied.

The selectmen also talked about making the street with no name between Anna's Bakery and the Congregation Church a one-way street.

Police Chief Robert Cormier reported that, based on chalking tires, most people are complying with the two-hour parking signs on Main Street.

"Everyone that needs a space beyond two hours has been parking out back," Cormier said, adding that his department has ticketed only a couple of people, and that only one person that they're aware of has been moving his or her car just enough to avoid getting ticketed.

The selectmen will hear residents' thoughts on the proposed parking ordinance at 7 p.m. on Aug. 13.

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