As Projects Near Finish, Belmont Center Parking Plan Returns (As Does Free 2-Hr Parking in June)

Photo: Leonard Street’s newest structure.

While the daily encounters with construction equipment and traffic delays along Leonard Street may feel like an eternal visit to Purgatory, the reconstruction of Belmont’s commercial hub’s roadways is just months from completion. 

And with the finale of one task, the town has begun the next big chore, implementing the long-talked about parking plan for Belmont Center.

According to Belmont’s Town Administrator David Kale at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, as the major work in Belmont Center comes to an end – the roadway and sidewalk component will be finished by the end of July or early August and the former Macy’s/Foodies Urban Market is now scheduled to open before Thanksgiving – now is the time for the town to begin presenting a comprehensive parking program for Leonard Street, the surrounding side streets and the Claflin municipal parking lot to residents.

“Let’s gear up and make contengency plans with businesses and others so when [Foodies] is open,” the town will be ready for a critical mass of parking coming to the 199-space Claflin lot, said Kale.

The most immediate announcement on parking is that the town, in association with Belmont Savings Bank, will provide two-hour free parking in the Claflin lot for June. 

Using as its guide the parking plan created by Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associate in March 2012, there are several operating principles that will lead the process. The most significant of the principles, said Kale, is finding ways to increase parking spaces in the Claflin lot and on town streets.

“That become more important with retail spaces coming online,” said Kale, noting the introduction of Foodies Urban Market, the independent supermarket which caters to selling prepared foods and fresh produce. 

That need for upping the number of spaces, or just as important, freeing up spaces on a regular basis will necessitate the establishment of metered parking along Leonard Street as well as changing the current two-hour free parking in the first two rows of the Claflin lot. 

“We are looking to increase quick stops” to augment the number of total customers who can shop in the Center. One aspect of that goal will be increased enforcement of parking regulations on Leonard and Claflin, including patroling the lots and streets into the evening. 

Other areas that will need to be changed is revisiting the designated commuter parking areas – since the program began last year, only six commuter parking stickers have been sold by the town – and the location of parking for owners and employees of Center businesses.

“We may want them to be situation somewhere other than” the municipal lot,” said Kale.

Kale also said the town will work with businesses in an attempt to steamline delivery times to merchants to prevent the current backup of traffic along Leonard Street. 

“We have started a conversation with the Belmont Center Business Association” and we’ll have public meetings” to discuss the town’s plans in the next few months, said Kale.

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