Greenfield eyes parking changes

Vehicles parked along Main Street in Greenfield.

Vehicles parked along Main Street in Greenfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

 Staff Writer 

Published: 05-25-2024 2:39 PM

GREENFIELD — Almost a year after the city publicized results from a 2023 parking study that showed roughly half of the nearly 3,000 spots in the downtown area are empty at all times, the Parking and Traffic Commission is searching for ways to more efficiently manage Greenfield’s parking spaces.

Using revenue data on the city’s municipal lots, the commission is rearranging its parking structure and creating a new payment system for city-owned lots and street parking spaces. Commission member Jim Geisman noted that although Greenfield’s parking has a relatively low occupancy, people still struggle to find parking during certain “crunch time” hours. 

“Unlike a hotel, there’s not much you can do with the occupancy of parking, because it’s so short-term. The occupancy rates are incredibly low — is there anything that can be done?” Geisman asked the commission.

According to Economic and Community Development Assistant Christian LaPlante, who the Parking and Traffic Commission charged with collecting revenue data on the city’s parking spots, Greenfield has brought in about $48,426 in parking revenue this year, with the Olive Street Parking Garage being the city’s most profitable parking area, bringing in $26,693 of that total. The lot between Chapman and Davis streets was the second most profitable, LaPlante said, bringing the city roughly $11,065 in revenue — $8,023 from the Passport pay-to-park mobile app and $3,041 from the lot’s kiosk.

Although LaPlante was mainly focused on measuring particular parking revenue hotspots in the city, the commission, he said, is not using revenue as a primary motivator in its alteration of Greenfield’s parking stock. Rather, the commission is considering removing specific permit-only spots in city-owned parking lots, allowing permit holders to park anywhere in a lot for free and non-permit holders to pay to park in all public parking lots except for the Greenfield Public Library.

“One thing I took from the parking study is that you don’t necessarily want to think of managing parking as trying to generate as much revenue as possible,” LaPlante said. “You do want to think of it as how much revenue do we need to generate to manage this parking as effectively as we can.”  

Other proposed changes to the city’s parking structure include removal of time limits at city-owned lots, with the exception of City Hall parking spaces; reduction of costs at the Miles Street lot from 50 cents an hour to 25 cents an hour; and the creation of a unified parking payment system.

At the commission’s meeting on May 21, Jeff Sauser, a principal at the urban planning firm CommunityScale, suggested that the city designate some metered street spots on Main Street for free 30-minute parking, arguing that the spots are mainly used for those quickly entering and leaving a business. 

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“Many people that come downtown are there for five minutes to just drop something off or run to a restaurant. … It’s really annoying to have to pull out your phone and pay for five cents of parking,” Sauser said. “The point of parking is to make coming downtown easier, to make living in Greenfield easier. It’s not a primarily financial operation.”

 Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.