A few people are dismayed that I have not joined in a lease signing for what is to be called a municipal parking lot. The parking situation in Wilmington is a lot more complicated than most people are aware.
An adequate explanation would be too long here to fill you in, but I would like to say a few things. You can call a sandy area of land, that is regularly flooded, behind multiple retail buildings, a “municipal parking lot,” but without major reconstruction, grading, the addition of lighting, landscaping, curbing, diligent maintenance, and a pile of money, it is still going to be a sandy area that is regularly flooded and is a sorry excuse for a municipal parking lot for the town.
Without lighting and regular police patrol, it may even be a danger. Seven years ago, when there were far more businesses in the village and before a national economic downturn, the town did a parking study which found that except for a few holidays and weekends, there was no parking need. They rented 10 spaces to be a “municipal parking lot,” which is what they said we needed.
For the last five years the town has been paying for parking spaces to some landowners. This was discontinued in January. We now have no more “municipal parking” but nothing is any different, except we can’t say we do. I refused to take taxpayer dollars for the use of my land by the public and if someone wanted to park there they could. I have not denied anyone’s employees or tenants parking from there. I have no intention of doing anything differently. As far as I can tell, neither does the town. If there are any changes to this “new” lot that are being made and paid for by the town, other than what they have already been doing, I am not aware of them. Being able to say that we have a “municipal parking lot” may have more value and be more important to some people than actually having a municipal parking lot.
Until the town commits to having a real parking lot and decides to spend real money to have it be one, what you have now is what you will have for many years.
My signing a lease is not going to change a thing. If, however, the town is serious about a real municipal parking lot, which could cost the town nothing, and would ensure that any economic decline would not be due to a parking shortage, there is a way.
It’s what most towns across the country do, through zoning. The problem is, no one wants to talk about it, not the planning commission, not the selectboard, and none of the people who have no parking.