City's EB parking fix

New London residents and business owners who live and work along Pequot Avenue and adjacent streets near the Electric Boat offices should certainly welcome reports that the city is preparing to address on-street parking problems.

Parking shortages are usually a "good" problem to have and such is the case in this instance. Since taking possession of the two large office buildings from Pfizer, the EB workforce assigned to New London has continued to increase, to the point where the parking garage built for Pfizer cannot handle the demand.

A city should never complain about a business having too many jobs; and particularly in this case when the city faced the possibility of having two major office buildings vacant when Pfizer left in 2009.

However, while more jobs is a good thing, it does not make the fallout any less bad for residents and businesses that have seen their streets choked with cars parked by EB workers. In some instances, the parking has inconvenienced and discouraged customers, say business owners, while residents have trouble accessing their own homes.

The city is planning a multi-faceted response, said Tammy Daugherty, the city's director of economic development.

The Parking Commission is exploring new parking restrictions to reduce on-street parking near the EB offices.

Meanwhile, Joseph Celli, business manager for the city-owned Water Street parking garage, managed by Propark, said "optimistic and cooperative discussions are taking place" with a representative from EB to provide several hundred parking spaces for EB workers, with shuttle services to their Pequot offices.

Looking long term, said Ms. Daugherty, the city will continue to explore the creation of additional parking near the EB offices. While very preliminary, discussions include construction of a parking garage with first-floor retail services.

Having more cars downtown could help restaurants and businesses there. Parking could get tight in summer months, however, when ferry traffic peaks. And a few years down the line, parking will be needed for the planned National Coast Guard Museum.

Citizens can offer their input Feb. 27, when the Parking Commission hosts a public hearing on the parking issues. It begins at 7 p.m. at 111 Union St. in the second-floor conference room.

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