Finally, A Place to Park in Downtown

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Finally, A Place to Park in Downtown

Wed, 09/24/2003 - 8:00pm -- tim

Brattleboro has a lively downtown
filled with bookstores, antique stores, fine restaurants and cafes,
upscale clothing shops, exotic import stores, hair salons and home
furnishings stores. It has a hotel and an art movie theater. But up to
now, it has suffered from its reputation as a town with no parking.
All that is about to change. The new $9.6 million Brattleboro
Transportation Center is getting ready to open in the heart of downtown,
providing over 300 new parking spaces at affordable prices and
facilitating travel for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.
"By mid-October there will be convenient, safe, affordable,
weatherproof parking 24 hours a day," said Tom Appel, project
manager, at a community briefing of downtown landlords, employees and
residents at the River Garden. "It is expected that the first two levels
will be open for parking on Friday, October 3, in time to accommodate
visitors to the second annual Literary Festival and the Gallery Walk,
among the other fall events coming up."
Brattleboro is dedicated to maintaining a safe, effective and
economically sustainable multi-modal transportation center, said Jerry
Remillard, Town Manager.
"For a successful downtown, you need people living, working and
shopping in downtown, Remillard said. "This project facilitates that like
no other. The BTC links Brattleboro to the regional transportation
network providing travel options for walkers, bikers and drivers. There
will be hourly parking, long-term parking, parking permits and travel
permits. The town bus will stop there, bike racks will be provided, and
handicapped vans will be accommodated."
The Center will have a positive impact on downtown businesses, cultural
and sporting events, Gallery Walk and the various downtown parades and
festivals that take place throughout the year. Visitors and shoppers will
be sure of having a place to park. Amtrak rider ship is expected to
increase now that travelers will have a place to park their cars long term
and undercover.
There will also be public rest rooms, a lobby with an information
center, and 8,000-square feet of high-ceilinged commercial space on
Flat Street.
The project is the culmination of a long-time goal of the Town of
Brattleboro, which partnered with the Vermont Agency of Transportation,
the State of Vermont Downtown Program, and U.S. Senator James Jeffords
(I-Vt.) to bring it to completion. Jeffords was able to secure federal
funding for both the garage and the refurbishing of Union Station, which
shares a building with the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.
"The Brattleboro Transportation Center is a wonderful example of how we
can bring vitality back to our downtown areas while at the same time make
important upgrades that will help residents and visitors alike," Jeffords
said. "Improving our public transit system is an essential step for
struggling downtown centers, and this project is a model for others to
follow."
The key to the center's success will be the ability of employees and
residents of downtown to take advantage of it. That will free up most of
the Main Street parking for people who want to come to town to shop.
"We've lost some downtown businesses because employees didn't have parking
available," said Donna Simons of A Candle in the Night. "And parking has
always been a problem for the residents of downtown."
The 120,000-square-foot building is located between Flat Street and
Elliot Street on the former Bradley parking lot site. It has entrances and
exits on both streets and an elevator serving all four levels. This means
no more climbing a hill between Flat and Elliot streets. The area has also
been improved with safer sidewalks, attractive lighting and drainage,
creating a more efficient and friendly route.
A great deal of thought has gone into security. The space will be
open and well-lit, and have closed-circuit cameras that will be monitored
by the police station. Each level will also have two security phones that
hook up with the police dispatcher. A fire detection system and a
sprinkler system have been installed throughout for additional safety.
The Parking Enforcement Office will be located on the Flat Street side.
Parking will be both by the hour through pay-and-display machines,
and by the month with permits. Rates for daily parking (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday through Saturday) will be: a $1.00 coin for 300 minutes (5 hours);
25 cents for 75 minutes; 10 cents for 30 minutes; five cents for 15
minutes.
Open permit parking will be $25 a month. Reserved permit spaces
will cost $55 a month. This compares to $70 plus a month for
curbside/metered parking. Long-term parking will cost $5 a day with
advance purchase, excluding Sundays and holidays.
Financing for the center came from a $4 million local bond, more
than $3.5 million in federal money, and $1.6 million from the Vermont
Agency of Transportation and the State of Vermont Downtown Program.
The idea of a town parking garage was first proposed more than 20 years
ago. Various civic, business and town groups have tried to make it a
reality ever since. At one point, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of
Commerce went as far as pre-selling parking spaces to raise the money, but
the town voted down the project.
The current facility is the result of the work of the Downtown
Parking Study Committee, a citizens group that was formed in 1997.
"After nearly seven years of work by the citizens Downtown Parking
Study Committee it is gratifying to see the project come to fruition,"
said committee chairman Robert Woodworth. "We have believed all along that
the Brattleboro Transportation Center will be the lynch pin project to
Brattleboro's future downtown viability."
The project was designed by the architectural firm of Wallace Floyd
Design Group. The site was engineered by Stevens & Associates,
managed by New England Management Company, and constructed by DEW
Construction.