Firm examines downtown Hanover, College parking

by Emilia Baldwin | 11/3/14 7:37pm

11.04.14.news_.parking-meter_Eliza-McDonough
New meters will enforce limits on parking times in downtown Hanover.
by Eliza McDonough / Eliza McDonough

Laura Barrett, the College library’s director of education and outreach, said she used to pay for the best parking sticker available, which gave her access to parking lots close to the center of campus.

“It was quite inexpensive at the time,” she said. “But when they nearly doubled prices, I decided just to use the free lot.”

Now, Barrett said she occasionally uses a shuttle service provided by the parking office on cold winter mornings. But on most days, she usually walks the half mile from Thompson Lot to her office in Baker-Berry Library.

Several changes to Hanover parking aim to regulate town meter usage and improve access to College lots, but town and College officials are still debating the options moving forward. Vice president for campus planning Lisa Hogarty said she hopes to receive suggestions from faculty and students about more convenient parking options by next summer.

Desman Associates, a parking and transportation consulting firm, is studying a shortage of parking in downtown Hanover, said Hanover parking division supervisor Patrick O’Neill. Desman Associate consultants Jerry Salzman and Eric Haggett have led the study, which began early this summer, said Janis Holtz, an accountant at the company.

This summer, the town’s parking office began replacing town parking meters and created new parking options at the 7 Lebanon Street garage after recommendations from Desman Associates, O’Neill said. The firm has recommended that Hanover implement a ride-share program that would allow individuals in the Hanover area to find and carpool with other drivers, he said.

College and Hanover business employees use short-term parking spaces meant for visitors and customers, which has created a shortage of parking in downtown Hanover, O’Neill said.

Of the 1,200 public parking spaces in downtown Hanover, 450 allow visitors to park for two or three hours, O’Neill said. These spaces cost $1 an hour and are concentrated around Main Street and South Main Street. After recommendations from Desman Associates, the town has installed new meters for these 450 spaces that prevent the same person from using a short-term space as a long-term space by refilling a two- to three-hour meter multiple times in a row, O’Neill said. These meters connect to a smartphone computer program, which tracks how long individuals park at these spaces, and alerts officers where to ticket offenders, O’Neill said.

“People can’t come back in an hour and 50 minutes and fill up the meter for another two hours. They have to vacate the space altogether,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said that the town has worked to enforce short-term parking for about a year, but these new meters will make enforcement easier. The office hopes to change the meters for all 1,200 parking spaces by fall 2015, he said. Meter-feeding is already a responsibility of town officers, O’Neill said, so no additional costs have been accrued for this enforcement policy.

At the 7 Lebanon Street Garage, the town has allowed Hanover business employees who arrive to work after 10 a.m. 30-day permits, which charge these drivers $2 a day to park.

The town and the College will encourage College employees to use free parking outside downtown Hanover, O’Neill said.

O’Neill said that in the past two years, Advanced Transit, the area’s local shuttle service, has increased its service to and from the Dewey Field parking lot and the parking lot by Thompson Arena, both of which are about half a mile from campus. The Hanover parking office provides College and Hanover business employees with parking permits for these two lots, Barrett said.

Economics professor Doug Irwin said there is not enough parking near the center of campus for College employees.

“Unless you get in before 8:45 a.m., it will be tough to find a spot on campus and you will likely have to go to the Dewey Field lot, which can be a hassle in the winter,” he said. ​