Having a historic Main Street is a unique and valuable attribute that attracts people to our great town. In addition to its charm, Main Street brings our community together in diverse ways and has the capacity to drive some of the economic development needed to stabilize taxes which we are working hard to accomplish.
While our mix of exceptional businesses and groups like Boonton Main Street, Inc. and Boonton Arts do a great job of promoting Main Street and inviting visitors, most people still need a place to park once they arrive. This doesn't even include the parking needs of those people already living in and around our downtown. There has been much said about "Boonton's parking problem" and I wanted to take a moment to share what we have been doing at the municipal level since I took office in January.
As part of a larger plan to revitalize our downtown shopping district, I have created a special committee to diagnose and prescribe solutions to increase parking supply, educate residents and visitors about existing parking/rules and manage enforcement.
If this task were easy, it would have been done already. As you can imagine, solutions that work for one group of stakeholders can often be damaging to others, not to mention spiraling costs and sheer feasibility. Regardless of what may have stopped us in the past, the new parking committee I formed (chaired by Dan Piccioni and supported by Scott Miniter, Jim Lynch, Chief Mayhood and myself) is committed to making an impact. Below is a partial list of potential solutions we are considering:
• Possible conversion of 100 block streets running perpendicular to Main Street (Division to Liberty with possible inclusion of Birch Street) into one-way streets with diagonal parking (beside being a county road, Main Street itself was determined by an engineer as being too narrow to accomplish this same idea)
• Exploring possible public/private partnerships to share existing lots with proximity to Main Street (e.g. Boonton Post Office, banks, houses of worship, School Street School, etc.)
• Possible purchase of a non-historic home within 1 block of Main Street for conversion into a parking lot
• Converting an existing town owned lot on Union and Birch Streets into a parking lot
• Exploring the feasibility of a parking garage / facility
• May 6th begins a pilot program for a First Friday Trolley to and from out-of-district locations (Sr. Center, High School, Kiwanis and Town Hall Lots) and Main Street to reduce parking demand during high traffic events
• Creation of a multi-tiered parking pass system to include different pricing for:
o Business owners / employees
o Property owners
o Downtown residents
o and more . . .
• Improved meter payment methods including credit card, nickel, dime, quarter and smart kiosk meters
• Creation of high turnover areas or zones (10 minute pick-up / drop-off zones)
• Random "warning days" where people will be given warnings instead of tickets to raise awareness about rules and regulations
• The creation of a Volunteer Parking Ambassador position to monitor, focus efforts, manage and help those parking on or near Main Street
• The review of monthly violation reports to more deeply understand the issues and answer the question, "Are we creating positive change?"
IMPROVING & PROMOTING EXISTING PARKING:
• Improved lighting and cleanliness of the Plane Street & other municipal lots
• Building on Boonton Main Street Inc.'s new Parking Map
• Creating /improving wayfinding signage to guide visitors towards parking options
• Educating the public about rules, their enforcement and the reality versus the perception of "Boonton's parking problem"
• Creating a Walking Encouragement Program (e.g. brochures with walking maps, distance calculations, calories burned, etc.)
Beyond Main Street, the parking committee is also looking at special areas of concern including school overflow, non-residential and commercial parking in neighborhoods, as well as parking during special events like snow storms and election days.
Public input is critical to this process and our success. If you have ideas or comments that you would like included in our work or have interest in volunteering your own time, skills and/or resources for this cause, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org with "Parking" in the subject or call (973) 402-9410 x622. Thank you.