Changes to parking in downtown Putnam to be discussed

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Jan. 14, 2013
This section of Main Street with its prime parking spots is closed for First Fridays. Photos by D. Coffey.
This section of Main Street with its prime parking spots is closed for First Fridays. Photos by D. Coffey.

Visitors to downtown Putnam might soon see changes to the parking situation. Putnam Police Chief Rick Hayes and Special Services District Chairperson Gerry Cotnoir are asking residents and business owners who are interested in serving on a Parking Advisory Committee to contact them.

“Parking has been a topic of discussion in Putnam for some time now,” said Hayes. “From time to time, various strategies have been employed, with only a modicum of success. It’s a dilemma that’s been discussed at Putnam Business Association meetings, and that’s why it’s been brought to the Special Services District.”

The Special Services District encompasses the area framed roughly by Kennedy Drive, Day Kimball Hospital, the Woodstock and Thompson town lines, and Route 395. The Special Services District Authority is the traffic authority for that area of Putnam. Changes to parking, speed limits and signage must meet with its approval.

Hayes is looking for guidance on time limits, enforcement and whether the town should install meters or consider closing off some streets to traffic to create pedestrian mall areas. “There is a whole array of topics I hope will be discussed,” Hayes said. “Then I hope to bring something that's agreeable to the business community, patrons, visitors and residents to town officials. I hope to find some equal ground that we can bring back to the Special Services District and have them give us their blessings.”

The growth of the Putnam downtown area with an upswing in businesses such as restaurants, boutiques and art venues has led to a need to study the current parking situation, according to Hayes.

Putnam Economic and Community Development Coordinator Delpha Very said downtown Putnam has become a destination place. “There's a new term out there called 'place making,'” she said. “People are looking for that sense of community where they can congregate, and Putnam has become one of those places.”

But the downtown footprint is small, and there is a perception that there aren't enough parking places, she said. “It's a good time to start talking about the next step to take,” Very said. “What do we want to see in five or 10 years? That includes how and what to develop in the downtown area, as well as providing appropriate parking spaces and enforcement methods.”

The aim of the advisory committee will be to survey the availability of parking spaces and how to accommodate visitors, customers and business owners and staff. “We aren't looking to add or subtract parking spaces,” Hayes said. “I'm hoping a committee of 10 to 15 people can meet three to four times to see what we can do.” He's asked members of the Putnam Business Association, Economic and Development Coordinator Delpha Very, Public Works Manager Jerry Beausoleil, and one of the town's selectmen to sit on the committee. He would like to see interested members of the general public join as well.

For more information, contact Hayes at 860-928-6565 or or Special Services District Authority Chairman Gerry Cotnoir at 860-928-5529.

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