Resident parking restrictions put in place at Armstrong Court

A new 24-hour, seven days a week residents-only parking program will soon be in effect for Armstrong Court with Housing Authority leadership expecting to expand it to all town properties.

The Board of Selectmen gave its unanimous approval to the new parking restrictions at its June 7 meeting and once proper signage is put in place the section of town housing will begin a six-month test of a residents-only parking policy. Visitor parking will be made available in a specifically designated portion of the complex’s parking lot, but otherwise residents will have to display parking permit stickers in their car windows.

According to Housing Authority Deputy Director Terry Mardula, parking is an issue at Armstrong Court, which has 210 spaces for the 144 units and called the restrictions “a long time coming.”

Mr. Mardula said this test will not only help the agency determine if its an effective end to parking woes but where the other cars are coming from. He said that visitors and people who are not supposed to be staying in the units are leaving their cars there as are people from surrounding roads who leave their vehicles in the Armstrong Court lots. With residents having the stickers and non-residents not, Mr. Mardula said this will be a “great management tool.”

“It should be pretty easy to identify through our sticker system [who is doing the parking],” Mr. Mardula said. “We’ve already certified 81 families out of 144 and given out 107 stickers to certified drivers with one car per driver… In the month or so coming up we’ll find out what our population is.”

A certified driver on the lease will be allowed to have a parking sticker for their vehicle, meaning a family with two cars and two drivers will not run into any issues. But Mr. Mardula said situations where there are multiple cars registered to one driver will not be allowed. He added this system will also bring clarity to situations where people have just moved to Armstrong Court have out of state cars and where cars are being borrowed and kept there without being registered to the actual drivers.

“There are a couple of gray areas we still have to work out,” Mr. Mardula said.

One of the determinations left to be made is how many spaces there will be in the visitor’s lot. Mr. Mardula estimated the certification process for Armstrong Court was 60% done as of two weeks ago and he hoped that things would be in place by July. Residents will not have to pay for the parking stickers. If their registration and licenses are on file with the Housing Authority

Town Parking Services Director Allen Corry told the selectmen that there had been a meeting recently with Armstrong Court tenants and that this policy was a result of their complaints that they could not find a parking spot at night because so many non-tenants were using up the available spots. Mr. Corry said the Housing Authority then came to him to see if a residents-only policy was feasible and he didn’t see any problem with it.

“We can see if this will resolve the parking problem in the Armstrong Court area,” Mr. Corry said.

Mr. Mardula confirmed to the Post that this was a big issue at the March meeting and that people returning from work were having trouble finding spots at night because people not on the lease for units there were using them.

Data and resident reaction will be collected over the next six months before the Housing Authority and Mr. Corry return to the selectmen to have the policy either made permanent or ended.

Mr. Mardula said that other Housing Authority properties would soon have similar programs in place but that the agency wanted to approach each complex individually instead of implementing changes all at once. Mr. Mardula credited Mr. Corry with his help in getting the programs launched and said Adams Garden would likely be the next town housing complex that would have it put into effect with Wilbur Peck to follow.

The Housing Authority already has a residents-only policy in place for its Quarry Knoll senior housing complex. Because that complex does not have town roads in it, the Housing Authority, which operates as an independent town agency, did not need selectmen approval for the program, as it did here. A town road leads into Armstrong Court, which gives the town authority here on the parking.

There have been complaints from Quarry Knoll, though, about the policy, which allows for only one vehicle to be stickered per tenant. That means any resident who has two vehicles would have to find alternate parking for it or risk being ticketed. Residents have refused to go on the record with their names and their specific complaints, but the Post has heard from multiple people in Quarry Knoll that feel the restrictions are unfair to them.

However, Mr. Mardula insists that the majority of residents are in favor of the policy and that he doesn’t feel exceptions need to be made for the rare cases where a resident feels they need to operate two cars with only one driver. He said at Quarry Knoll “almost” all the drivers were cooperative about the restriction.

“It’s not an argument I accept,” Mr. Mardula said. “They can park on a town road if they need to… When you look at this in general like in Armstrong Court where we have four vehicles for a family, I don’t think it’s fair or needed.”

Mr. Mardula said because there are only 66 spaces for the 90 units, something had to be done because people from outside the complex were parking at Quarry Knoll. With the population changing and more people driving as they get older, Mr. Mardula said these parking restrictions will help in the future when there is more of a demand for those spaces.

Because the Housing Authority has control over the roads where Agnes Morley and McKninney Terrace, when the policy is expanded to there the agency can do it unilaterally with no need for Board of Selectmen approval.

 

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