Wilton Main Street parking changes made

WILTON – Parking on Main Street in Wilton is limited and has been, according to longtime resident Charlie McGettigan, “a problem for 50 years,” and was much worse when the Whiting Box Shop occupied the space where the police station now is.

There isn’t a lot that can be done about it, but the Selectmen have made an attempt to make it easier. On Monday, Feb. 24, the Selectmen voted to change and clarify some parking regulations.

Under the new ordinance, all parking spaces on Main Street except for the two handicapped spaces and four other designated spots, will have a two-hour limit between 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Unrestricted parking will be in effect until midnight. There will be no overnight parking on Main Street, which is from midnight until 6 a.m. Merchants said this will allow patrons to have dinner and attend a movie without fear of a ticket.

Four spaces will be designated as 30 minutes, two near Putnam’s Clothing and C&S Pizza, and two at the lower end of Main Street near Nelson’s Candy. Each of these spots will be individually signed.

Additional signs will be installed directing people to the free public lots off Main Street, those near the police station and across from the library on Forest Street, plus the lot at the western end of Main Street near “the dummy.”

The changes were a result of discussions on Feb. 17 with representatives of the Main Street Association, Main Street Merchants and Dennis Markaverich, owner of the Town Hall Theater.

With Main Street squeezed between a steep hill and the Souhegan River, there is no possibility of adding spaces.

The rebuilding of Main Street under a state program a few years ago eliminated some of the spaces on the north side of the street in the interest of safety. State engineers wanted to eliminate all parking along the retaining wall on the north side because, they said, people tend to walk across the street instead of using the crosswalk by Town Hall. Town officials successfully argued for keeping the spaces east of Town Hall, but lost those to the west where there is now a flower garden.

The creation of Main Street Park eliminated spaces once used by merchants and for theater parking, and part of the problem is merchants who park in front of their businesses.

Betsy Castro, representing the Main Street merchants, and David McGee, president of Main Street Association, presented what Castro called a consensus of the merchants, and said that all are basically in agreement.

It was agreed that the congestion was worst in the early evening with people having dinner before going to the theater, and people attending meetings of town boards.

It was noted that 40 of the parking spaces in the police station lot belong to the Wilton Falls Building, which is currently up for foreclosure sale. Should a business requiring those spaces purchase the building, those could be lost to daytime parking. The town owns 10 spaces.

McGettigan said the two-hour parking had been instituted “over 50 years ago” because of basically the same problems, and he thought it should be kept.