The Maplewood Village Alliance hopes to provide parking relief to shoppers and merchants alike with a proposal it made to the Maplewood Township Committee on Monday, November 15.
At Monday's Township Commitee meeting, representatives from the Village Alliance addressed the governing body to put forth a trial parking plan for merchants and their employees, many of whom now park in limited-time spaces downtown and often have to move their cars throughout the day to secure spots.
The Village Alliance is a nonprofit organization that manages the Village's special improvement district, providing marketing and promotions, design guidelines, advocacy and beautification for the Village. The Alliance is supported by an assessement on commerical properties over and above property taxes.
"We want to create a merchant parking area on the outlying areas of the Village—overlay a zone—so they can park all day," said John James, president of the Maplewood Village Alliance. Merchants would pay $25 for an annual sticker they could affix to their cars to give them access to park on designated side streets. "They would now walk a few blocks further, but they'd be able to park all day."
James explained that the proposed plan, which he'd like to put into a trial effect starting in January when parking permits renew, would be a win-win for merchants and shoppers. Although merchants would lose prime parking spots, they'd no longer have the headache of interrupting work to leave their shops to move their cars to avoid getting tickets. Shoppers, in turn, would have more spots downtown. James suggested this could spur business.
James said that this plan would not affect commuter parking areas.
Members of the Township Committee seemed amenable to the trial program, but did express some concerns.
"If we were going to implement this I would want to know what are we going to do to determine that it's working," said Committeeman Jerry Ryan. "And that we should feel free to abandon it if it's not."
Mayor Vic DeLuca seemed in favor of the trial plan. "I'm open to trying this out, but we have to run it by the police," he said.
That's what the Township Committee and representatives of the Village Alliance will do before the December 7 Township Committee meeting, when they will resume discussion of the proposal.
At a previous Township Committee meeting, Vice Mayor Kathy Leventhal had suggested numbering parking spaces to help officers better enforce parking time periods, among other improvements. At that time, Deputy Mayor Fred Profeta had cautioned against making any piecemeal adjustments to parking in the Village until a full parking study was performed.