Greenfield parking study launches with workshop

By MARY BYRNE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-01-2023 8:52 PM

GREENFIELD — Residents and business owners had the opportunity Tuesday evening to share with consultants their thoughts and ideas on downtown parking needs.

The workshop, which took place at the John Zon Community Center, marked the first stage of a study of downtown parking, which is being conducted by Stantec and funded by a $25,000 Massachusetts Downtown Initiative grant. The study comes as the city continues work on its downtown revitalization efforts.

Community and Economic Development Director MJ Adams said city officials quickly realized “parking … was a conversation people wanted us to consider.”

Jason Schrieber, senior principal at the consulting firm Stantec, explained that the study will help the city understand “best approaches” to parking, noting the workshop, where attendees had the opportunity to share written input, was one of the first steps.

In addition to collecting information from the city, such as parking meter activity, and collecting input from the community, Schrieber said his team will conduct a parking study, which will involve counting vehicles for an established time frame, likely in the spring or summer.

“We’ll collect really good data and be able to slice and dice it,” he said.

Attendees asked consultants to consider bicycle lanes and parking, and also lamented certain areas of the downtown area where parking is often harder to come by. Questions were raised about variable pricing, or the necessity of parking meters in certain areas of Greenfield.

“You need to have the ability to accommodate all levels of interest,” Schrieber said.

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The group plans to present a draft and final parking study recommendations by June, he said, though this would be dependent upon when a parking count is completed.

“Once we know what’s going on on the ground … we may say parking enforcement should operate at different times … or maybe time limits are wrong,” Schrieber said.

The study may help determine whether more or less parking is needed, and where, he said.

“The best thing we can possibly do is interpret what we hear as good as possible,” Schrieber said. “It’s not worth figuring out a solution to parking in a back room; it’s about finding solutions that work for a community.”

More workshops planned

The next related workshop will be held Thursday, Feb. 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the John Zon Community Center. That workshop, Adams said, will focus more specifically on the curb-to-curb reconfiguration of Main Street that will include upgrades to pedestrian, bicycle and transit accommodations. The workshop will also address how the redesign will promote safety at state-identified pedestrian and bicycle crash clusters, upgrade infrastructure, and improve the intersection of Main and High streets. In the event of snow, the workshop will be rescheduled to Feb. 21.

“We wanted to do a parking workshop first, so the community knows that whatever we do on Main Street is going to have parking implications,” Adams explained.

The city has appropriated $288,900 in capital funds for engineering and design of the Main Street reconfiguration, which will begin 100 feet east of Colrain Street and end at High Street.

The construction cost is projected at $7.78 million, funded by the state and federal governments. The project is on track to be included as part of MassDOT’s Transportation Improvement Program. Construction is slated to begin as early as the fall of 2026.

The focus of the Feb. 9 meeting is to gather input from the public before design concepts are developed with help from the Fuss & O’Neill civil and environmental engineering consulting firm. A second community workshop will be scheduled in June to present design concept plans and gather feedback before completing the 25% design for review by the state Department of Transportation.

“If you have ideas about the configuration of parking, crosswalks or bicycle lanes on Main Street, now is the time to weigh in, so that feedback can be included in the design process,” Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said in a statement.

“Though we’re working toward the 25% design, the time to voice your ideas is now, because many key decisions are made in this stage before MassDOT begins its review.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.

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