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Downtown parking changes considered in Amherst

Town Manager John Musante told the Select Board on Monday that downtown parking adjustments are under development by staff, with suggestions from residents and the business community, and should be ready for a public hearing in February.

Musante said he will ask Select Board Chairwoman Stephanie O’Keeffe to schedule the hearing and put a public notice under the town’s parking bylaw.

Restoring permit parking on the north side of Spring Street between Boltwood Avenue and Churchill Street is among the ideas being explored. These were converted to metered spaces when the Lord Jeffery Inn reopened a year ago, while the south side spaces are reserved for the inn.

But there has been substantially less use of the metered spaces than expected, Musante said, possibly making it sensible to convert them back to town center permit parking.

Another recommendation is for the unrestricted parking on the south side of Gaylord Street, a small connector street on the edge of downtown, to be changed to town center permit parking.

“We’ve had some active discussion with many of the neighbors of that street related to the narrowness of the street, the congested parking and feeling at times there is inability to have adequate parking for those who live in the neighborhood,” Musante said.

While there is support from some in the neighborhood, it is not unanimous, with some concerned about introducing formal parking to the street.

The parking changes may mean adding to the current four 15-minute spaces.

Representatives of the business community are interested in exploring increasing that number and Musante said he will work with the transportation committee of the Business Improvement District on this recommendation.

“We’re going to be having a brainstorm session with them later this month,” Musante said.

A staff recommendation is to add eight lower-level, monthly reserved spots at Boltwood Garage. “There is an ever-present waiting list for those spaces,” Musante said.

Staff may also examine the existing loading zone spaces, whether there are a sufficient number, and the number of taxi stands and where they are located.

The proposed changes will not include any adjustments to the parking rates or enforcement hours.

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