Parking spaces or a bike lane? Stamford residents spoke out on which should take precedence on the road in front of a condo complex at 256 Washington Blvd. The stretch of Washington Blvd. between Atlantic and Pulaski streets has had a bike lane since 2009. But area residents are requesting on-street parking be put there as part of the city’s Residential Permit Parking Program. They say rail commuters and new South End developments have limited parking in the area.
“The intent of the Residential Parking Permit Program was, near the train station you have people from outside used to come and park and take the train and go,” says the City Traffic Engineer Mani Poola. “It used to disrupt the neighborhood.”
“The RPPP program was created by the Board of Reps. to keep the communities together and that’s what we’re trying to do in this big undertaking of Harbor Point at everywhere we turn, we are still a community, we live there, these are our homes,” says Carol Ann McClean, a resident on Washington Blvd.
Poola called for a public hearing on the issue after a city survey garnered enough public support for the parking request. Poola proposed a plan that would provide about 7 residential parking spaces, but eliminate a section of the existing bike lane. Opinions clashed between residents at Tuesday’s night’s meeting.
“I think the residents should be considered first, that we’ve been there for so many years and that we’ve been paying our taxes and everything else,” says resident Genevieve Cal. “Why can’t we have parking.”
“We were asked by the city and the state to construct the bike lanes because it’s to be the beginning of a network of bike lanes throughout the city and so we’re very happy to be a part of that in the early stages and hope that that will continue,” says John Freeman of Building and Land technology.
“It’s only seven spaces and a bike lane is for the entire Stamford community which is thousands and thousands of people,” says Meg Dalton, founder of Bike Stamford. “It may only be a stretch of 280 feet but if you take away that one lane, you’re acting against years of progress that the city has already taken to becoming a city of the future.”
Although everyone had a stance on what should take priority, most agreed there should be a solution that works for everyone.
“There should be a way that we can co-exist together,” says Board of Reps. member Terry Adams. “They could grow but the people in the community can maintain and live the way they been living.”
After hearing the public, Poola says the best solution would be to give residents access to a nearby private parking lot owned by BLT. But Poola says that would only work if everyone were on board. Poola says the public has until January 28 to give input on the issue.