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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Brattleboro Planners To Hold Forum on Downtown Parking on July 18, 2017


The public is invited to a Downtown Parking Forum on Tuesday, July 18 from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Brooks Memorial Library Meeting Room. Residents, business owners, property owners and others are invited to identify issues and concerns, ask questions, make comments or share ideas.

"The purpose of this public forum is to begin a broad community conversation about downtown parking. The comments will be recorded and compiled,” said Sue Fillion, Planner. “Additional public workshops will be held in the early fall to establish future options and solutions.”

Andy Hill from Desman Design Management will facilitate the forum. Desman Design Management was recently contracted to look at Brattleboro’s downtown parking system. The goals of the study are to determine how parking is being utilized now in order to determine if the existing parking supply is appropriate; review the Town’s management approach and make recommendations for improvements; and project the impact of future development on parking needs.

"The last detailed parking study conducted in Brattleboro was in 1983, well before the construction of the Transportation Center. There has been no review since then to verify the impact of those parking spaces has on the rest of the system,” said Rod Francis, Planning Director. He added, “The Planning Commission has begun work on a Downtown Master Plan and this is an important component to ensuring a vibrant downtown.”

Desman Design Management is a parking consultant with nine offices nationwide. They have worked with many communities throughout Vermont and New England. This study is funded in part by a State of Vermont Municipal Planning Grant.

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How did the 1983 study work out?

I recall numerous public meetings in the late 1980s for the Main Street Reconstruction Project. These were serious discussions with the stated purpose to include the public in decisions that would affect our town. One thing that was consistent was that the project would respect the historical character of our downtown.

But we ended up with huge, ugly, traffic signals, which totally clash with their surroundings. During that same period that our traffic signals were being installed, Burlington was also getting new traffic lights: but there the Vermont Agency of Transportation installed lights with ornamentation designed to be compatible with a historic district. In Brattleboro, our selectboard, lead by Richard DeGray with the support of all of the other board members except Dora Bouboulis, refused even to inquire with VTrans regarding more appropriate traffic lights.

With that history of citizens and residents investing endless hours at tedious meetings with the good-faith expectation that their input would actually be respected, only to have the decision-makers ignore that entire process: How much faith can we have in the public process that is now being proposed?

Regarding the Transportation Center, it ended up being quite different from, and costing several times more than what was envisioned in 1983. There were a number of assumptions/promises which turned out to be quite inaccurate once the actual project was completed.

1. Nowhere have I seen a town study of how the original conclusions of the 1983 study turned out to compare with the reality. For example: What were the promises on how the parking garage (... er, "Transportation Center,") would affect on-the-street parking; and once it was built, how did those promises compare with the reality? (I recall that those pushing the project claimed that it would open up on-the-street-parking, which did not turn out to be true.)

2. What were the cost and income projections of the 1983 study, and does the income from the Transportation Center actually cover the costs to the extent promised, or are we subsidizing the Transportation Center?

I once asked one of the selectpersons who had pushed hard for going ahead with construction, and his answers sounded like off-the-cuff assertions, ungrounded in facts and figures.

If we are on the verge of another public input study, shouldn't we at least have a clear and honest account of how the recommendations and promises coming out of the 1983 study turned out? Personally I like the idea of an open, public process, but before we invest time an effort into such a process: On what basis can we be assured that it will not just be another charade?

 
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Do we need them all as they are now?

What if parking lots were replaced with other useful structures? High-Grove seems like quite valuable downtown space that could easily have upper floors. An upper floor could be greenspace and structures.

Harmony Lot used to be buildings with employees in them. : )

Move parking to the edges of town, and let people walk, bike, and public transport themselves around in town. Become world famous!

 
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Great ideas! If only we had a

Great ideas! If only we had a reliable mode of public transportation
in town. Or, maybe a good taxi service...

 

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