Train station expansion nearly finished in Northampton, parking management changes in works

  • Work on the extension of the train platform off Pleasant Street in Northampton continues Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writers
Published: 6/11/2019 11:15:54 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Construction crews have nearly wrapped up a $1.6 million expansion of the city’s Pleasant Street train station, which is expected to accommodate more train trips later this summer under a state pilot program.

The work on the station involves expanding the platform, matching its current design, and putting in an improved ramp, said Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokesman Patrick Marvin. The work is expected to wrap up this month, with finishing and detail work extending into July.

Massachusetts will be increasing service to Northampton, Holyoke and Greenfield on a two-year trial basis. For the Northampton station, this will mean two additional trains in the morning and two later in the day, according to Northampton Economic Development Director Terry Masterson.

Meanwhile, the city of Northampton and the owners of Union Station are nearing a deal in which the business would take over management of all of the parking spaces in its lot.

The Union Station lot, which abuts the train station, is privately owned but has approximately 75 parking spots closer to Pleasant Street that currently are managed by the city. The rest of the approximately 150 spaces are controlled by the lot’s owner, Union Station, whose complex includes The Tunnel Bar and the Platform Sports Bar.

This arrangement dates back to 1986 when for $1 the city signed a 99-year lease — with the property owners at the time — to control daytime parking for some spaces in the lot as municipal parking, a lease that was amended in 1993.

Mayor David Narkewicz said that the city and Union Station have been having ongoing discussions for years about the parking situation.

“The goal was to try to unify it,” said Narkewicz.

He noted that the city only has enforcement power in its parking spaces until 6 p.m. and that sometimes people taking the train want to leave their vehicles there long term.

Speaking about the city-managed spots after 6 p.m., Jeremiah Micka, one of Union Station’s owners said, “We essentially inherited a full parking lot.”

The agreement that the city and Union Station are prepared to sign will turn over the management of the lot to Union Station and install a gate system similar to the one used by the city at the E.J. Gare Parking Garage. Union Station successfully bid on a request for proposals to manage parking for the city’s spots in the lot.

Union Station will pay for all the equipment, installation and maintenance for the new parking management system. It will also pay Northampton $72,000 a year annually to make up for the loss of parking revenue for the city.

“It represents no net loss of revenue,” said Narkewicz.

The lot will charge 75 cents an hour to park. There will also be a free 15-minute parking window in the lot to ensure that those making stops for the train station do not have to pay for parking.

Micka also said that Union Station will verify parking for its patrons so that they will not have to pay to park.

“That’s why we have a parking lot,” he said.

The agreement with the city will be for three years. Micka said that while no exact date has been set for the takeover, it will happen this summer.

“We’re just waiting on some equipment,” he said.

The mayor said that the agreement with Union Station is a good example of public-private collaboration. He also said that the agreement will increase the efficiency of the management of the lot for both the city and Union Station.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

Gazette Reporter Dusty Christensen contributed to this story.




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