From the Ask And Ye Shall Receive Dept., I was just wondering a few days ago what had become of last year’s downtown parking study, when lo and behold, it turns out that the Greenfield Parking and Traffic Commission held its first meeting in ages last week and that very topic was on the agenda.

Getting the band back together

From what I can tell, this commission is currently pretty slim—just three members, with two vacancies—and per their discussion at this meeting, the last time they met was last July. It wasn’t clear to me what the cause of the long gap between meetings was, although Commissioner Jean Wall outright stated that while Mayor Martin involved the commission in all of the city’s projects during his tenure, Mayor Wedegartner “didn’t care about this commission and never had us meet.”

Also in attendance at this meeting was Christian LaPlante, the city’s Economic and Community Development Assistant and recently appointed parking policy coordinator. I noticed what seemed to be a consistent theme running through the meeting of Commissioner Wall wanting to wait for guidance from Mayor DeSorgher—both on specific issues as well as about the purpose of the commission more broadly—with LaPlante pointing out that he represents the mayor. It was an interesting dynamic.

The first item on the agenda was election of officers, a quick affair that resulted in Commissioners Sebastian Gutwein and Jim Geisman being elected Chair and Secretary respectively.

Picking up and then tabling the Downtown Parking Study

The commission discussed the Downtown Parking Study1 at this meeting but did not get very far with it. The commissioners agreed that they needed time to more thoroughly review the study’s results and recommendations, and I got the impression that Commissioners Geisman and Wall had not yet looked at it. Wall seemed reluctant here as well to proceed without guidance from the mayor, saying again that it depends “what the mayor wants from us” and then calling it “a waste of time” to do anything before they hear from the mayor.

The commissioners agreed to table the discussion and pick the parking study back up at their next meeting.

A side note from this part of the meeting was that planning for the Main Street Redesign project remains ongoing and that the next version of the plan should be available for public review sometime this spring.2

Parking maps old and new

One of the recommendations from the Downtown Parking Study that the city has already started moving forward on is a simplified map to help people looking for where they can park in the downtown area.

LaPlante presented the commissioners with the current draft of the new map. As it currently stands, even this version of the parking map—while a great improvement over the current map—is still quite complicated. I think that is less an issue of the map’s format and more an indicator that Greenfield’s parking rules are overly complicated. Commissioner Wall pointed out that what stands out on the map is the large amount of permit parking spots; LaPlante noted that all of these spots open up after 5PM and on weekends, but that is not clear on the map.

The review of the new map led to a somewhat extended discussion of the Olive Street garage. Rates at the garage have been reduced from $1 per hour to $0.40 per hour, but with the removal of the perpetually broken automated gates and the parking kiosk, the only way to pay for parking there is via the Passport app. Apparently lots of people express confusion about parking at the garage and frustration at having to use the app3, and the commissioners bounced around some ideas for solving these problems without reaching a conclusion.

There was also some discussion among the commissioners regarding what to do about the danger to pedestrians from cars exiting the garage now that the automated gates and the warning signal are gone.

What to do about the library lot?

The other big topic of conversation at this meeting was the parking lot at the library.

During the planning and construction of the new library, the intention had been to have the lot be a paid parking, but per a January announcement from the mayor, this lot has continued to be free. However, the commissioners noted at this meeting that the lot is constantly full during the day, speculating that most of the people parking there are not library patrons but rather courthouse visitors and others using the lot because it is free.

The commissioners seemed inclined to shift the library lot back to being paid parking (as it was for the old library) but figuring out a way to keep some free spots for library patrons. It is probably the right thing to do but I could imagine this topic becoming pretty noisy and controversial—folks do like their free parking.

During this part of the discussion, there was an off-hand reference (possibly by Chair Gutwein) to making the Davis/Chapman St. lot free.4 This conversation went no further than that, but I could imagine hearing more at next month’s meeting, when they dig into the details of the Downtown Parking Study.

That brought the meeting just past the one-hour mark, at which point the commissioners decided to table the rest of the topics and adjourned for the evening.

  1. If you need a refresher on the parking study, or never heard of it, I’ve got you covered. See what I do for you? 😁 ↩︎

  2. And that lines up with the conversation at the Community Development Block Grant meeting earlier this week about actual implementation work for that project happening in the 2026/27 timeframe. ↩︎

  3. I feel it necessary to note that I have been using the Olive St. garage pretty regularly during the week lately, and it is consistently at least half to three-quarters full. So it seems many folks are figuring it out just fine and it makes me wonder if there is not a noisy minority being over-represented here. ↩︎

  4. That’s the lot behind the old Wilson’s building, if you have lost track. ↩︎