City, EB looking to resolve parking problem

Traffic moves between lines of parked cars on Pequot Avenue in New London Friday. The city is looking into possible sites for additional parking for employees of Electric Boat, many of whose cars are the object of complaints from local residents.
Traffic moves between lines of parked cars on Pequot Avenue in New London Friday. The city is looking into possible sites for additional parking for employees of Electric Boat, many of whose cars are the object of complaints from local residents. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

New London - In response to complaints from residents and businesses about Electric Boat workers parking along Pequot Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods, the city is continuing to investigate alternative parking arrangements for some of the roughly 3,000 EB employees who work at the Pequot Avenue campus.

The Parking Commission, which only has jurisdiction over municipal off-street parking, will listen to parking concerns during a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Stanton Building, 111 Union St.

Among the possible solutions being discussed between the commission and EB is providing parking for about 200 in the downtown Water Street Parking Garage. Workers would then be bused the roughly 1.5 miles to the EB offices, according to Kip Bochain, commission chairman.

"We've been negotiating with EB," Bochain confirmed Friday. "We have logistics to work out."

Discussions include how much the city would charge for parking in the garage and how many spaces would be available for the company's employees. EB would require parking from 6 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, Bochain said.

The Water Street garage can accommodate 920 vehicles. Employees from various downtown businesses, office workers and downtown residents already park in the garage. It is also used by those taking the ferries and mass transit. Monthly rates are between $52 and $69.

The city is also looking to restrict parking on a municipal lot off Pequot Avenue near the marinas and restaurants, where 20 to 30 EB workers have also been parking, Bochain said.

Adequate parking became a problem for EB almost immediately after it bought the 33-acre campus in 2010 from Pfizer Inc. It had been the pharmaceutical giant's Global Research and Development headquarters, which had employed less than 2,000 workers. There are about 3,000 EB workers in the building now. The company provides on-site parking at a garage on Pequot Avenue and in adjacent parking lots. A regular shuttle service from the Groton campus also transports workers to New London. But many workers park on the street around the New London campus.

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said the city has been working with Electric Boat to find additional parking, but added that he plans to limit parking around EB possibly as early as next week. "The city been more than reasonable with EB," he said. "Both sides have been open and cooperative, but we're going to have to take remedial action ... so residents can have access to their homes and patrons can have access to the businesses."

The city administration has the authority to limit parking on streets but is working with the City Council and Parking Commission, the mayor said. "It's far better to reach a resolution with community input and consensus rather than unilateral action," he added.

Earlier this month, those who live and work near the Electric Boat campus complained to the City Council that Pequot Avenue was becoming dangerous because of parking on both sides of the street during the day. Customers also were unable to find parking to patronize businesses there, business owners said.

On Tuesday the City Council approved a resolution that encourages the Parking Commission and the administration to work cooperatively with Electric Boat. The council also asked the administration to consider establishing resident-only on-street parking on Converse Place and restrict on-street parking along Pequot Avenue between 95 Pequot Ave. and School Street.

The Parking Commission will make recommendations and suggestions to the city to help solve the parking problems, Bochain said, adding that no decisions have been made as yet.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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