Everyone has an opinion about parking in Maplewood Village.
On a recent evening, residents had a chance to share those opinions in a productive manner. Representatives of Maser Consulting and Township Engineer Tom Malavasi were on hand at the Burgdorff Center to solicit feedback and answer questions about the Village Parking Study, which is currently underway.
Back on March 15, the Township Committee awarded a contract to Maser for $24,780 to perform a comprehensive study of parking in the town's main commercial area, with the express directive to find solutions for the perceived lack of parking.
David Glynn Roberts of Maser explains that the firm has performed an inventory of all parking and other potential areas for parking and has performed analyses of parking and traffic patterns (including parking counts and turnover rates). Roberts said that the feedback gained from the open house would be incorporated into Maser's recommendations — which are due to be delivered in draft form by December.
Roberts was already getting a friendly earful from Tom Carlson, Chair of the Planning Board. Carlson was concerned that parking counts and turnover studies had been performed in the summer when parking is more readily available in the Village. Roberts said that the counts could be captured again in the busier fall season.
Carlson also wanted to ensure that the study took into account the coming redevelopment of the post office property — and potential opportunities for improvements to parking that that redevelopment will create.
While Roberts and Carlson chatted, other Maplewoodians roamed the theater space reading and reacting to boards on easels. The boards not only explained the project but asked residents to respond to possible parking "solutions." Residents were invited to place orange stickers on solutions they did not like (one unpopular suggestion was a parking garage) and green stickers on solutions they did like (more bike racks!).
Roberts said that solutions could ultimately include physical improvements such as connecting lots or creating better pedestrian pathways so that visitors park once and do not "repark" as they shop or visit the Village. He said that the town could also broker deals to use or improve private lots — he mentioned the drive-through lane in the Bank of America parking lot as a potential area to re-engineer so that it uses space more efficiently and creates more parking.
Other suggested improvements to parking could include changes to parking durations and enforcement.