New London tries to help EB, L&M find space to park

New London - With Electric Boat expanding its workforce and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital offering more and more services, parking space has become a prized commodity in this densely populated city.

EB has maxed out its parking facilities on Pequot Avenue and workers are taking shuttle buses from Groton to New London, or parking on public streets surrounding its New London offices.

At L&M, in an effort to provide more parking for patients and visitors on its campus, and to encourage employees not to park in residential areas, a 225-space lot is under construction off Ocean Avenue.

"We recognize EB is our largest taxpayer and the hospital is the largest employer of New London residents and we remain ready, willing and able to assist them however we can,'' Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said Friday. "We want them to be successful."

But economic growth and development bring more demand on limited resources - like parking spaces, he said.

City officials have met with EB representatives and have discussed several options to address parking needs, such as expanding its parking garage on Pequot Avenue and offering parking on vacant lots. But each option has had problems, Finizio said, and EB elected to shuttle its workers from Groton, he said.

EB provides on-site parking at its garage and adjacent parking lots, and a regular shuttle service from the Groton campus, according to Robert Hamilton, director of communications.

In addition, EB promotes van-pooling through the Connecticut RideShare program, as well as car-pooling at both its Groton and New London sites, Hamilton said.

"Those options would accommodate all New London employees,'' he said in a statement sent to The Day. "Some employees have chosen to utilize on-street parking rather than carpool, as some Groton employees have for decades."

Since 2010, when Electric Boat purchased Pfizer Inc. world research headquarters, it brought about 2,750 workers into the city, hundreds more than those who worked at Pfizer.

Lawrence & Memorial, which employs about 2,500 workers, is back before the Planning & Zoning Commission to address drainage issues for its lot under construction behind the Recovery Room restaurant and Dunkin Donuts on Ocean Avenue. The Conservation Commission is also reviewing the plans, which were first approved last year.

The lot, which was scheduled to open Nov.1, will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when it receives a certificate of occupancy. It will accommodate first shift workers, said hospital spokesman Mike O'Farrell.

"It will open up local streets and will make it easier for those coming into the hospital,'' O'Farrell said. "It's also improved the situation for Recovery Room and Dunkin Donuts, making that whole area easier to navigate."

The city has not received any complaints about on-street parking around EB, but has taken steps to ease traffic flow there eliminating two parking spaces near the roundabout at Pequot Avenue and shifting traffic to accommodate the parked cars.

"We've been in constant discussion with EB to address parking and we continue to remain open,'' Finizio said.

There has been some concerns about parking on streets in Fort Trumbull, where River Bank Construction is expected to break ground in the spring for its 99-unit Village on Thames housing development which has 217 parking spots.

Finizio said the city is monitoring parking throughout the city.

"We'll adjust accordingly,'' Finizio said.

Day Staff Writer Jennifer McDermott contributed to this story

k.edgecomb@theday.com

j.mcdermott@theday.com

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