Finding a fix for Montpelier's parking problems - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Finding a fix for Montpelier's parking problems

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"We need to rid ourselves from the reputation that we are a town where you can't get a parking space," said Brian Cain of the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

That may be a tall order, but Cain, chair of the recently formed Montpelier Parking Committee, says it's not out of the question.

"Any town, your parking is your first impression and your last impression, so this is the capital city of Vermont. We need that first and last impression to be very, very good," Cain said.

Cain's committee formed after the parking crisis came to a head last spring. Union members organized a town meeting at the Statehouse, calling attention to what can be an 800-space parking deficit.

"Time and again I receive calls from team members as they circle like vultures looking for a parking space that just doesn't exist," VSEA member Diane DeCoteau said in March.

Fast forward nine months and Cain says the results of a new survey by his group provide a detailed look at what is a multifaceted issue that defies silver bullet answers.

"It's not like I say just one particular problem and it's not just people coming in during the legislative session. It's about six or seven different scenarios of people who are parkers in downtown Montpelier," Cain said.

Some possible near-term solutions-- diagonal parking outside the Statehouse, an expanded satellite lot at the Department of Labor, or installing new smart meters downtown.

While many like the idea of a new parking garage, state officials say that pricey option is highly unlikely.

Complicating the issue is a new multi-modal transit center to begin construction next fall will eliminate another 100 spaces of state employee parking. Exacerbating parking problems this summer and fall was disruptive construction that has some retailers at wits' end.

"It seemed like we had construction on every corner and customers would tell us that it was very difficult to park, more so than usual," said Sarah McAllister of Botanica. "I did have one customer who came in... and said that he had tried to do errands in Montpelier one day during the construction and just gave up and did everything in Waterbury."

"It was harder for people to park, but as we're standing here, there's a space here, there's a space here and I think for people who want to shop here, they can generally find parking. But it's varied and some people want to have parking closer than we really have available all the time," Montpelier Mayor John Hollar said.

And with the Legislature gearing up, those precious spots will be even harder to find.

Click here to take a look at the parking survey results.

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