Like the weather, people enjoy talking about parking. That is certainly the case in Pittsfield, where discussion about downtown parking has probably gone on since downtown, if not cars, were invented. With a $75,000 consultant study underway, something constructive and innovative should emerge on the familiar issue.
Residents had an opportunity Thursday to weigh in at an open house at the Colonial Theatre organized by Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, and there will be more chances to do so. An online parking survey is available on the city of Pittsfield website (www.cityof pittsfield.org). There doesn't appear to be sentiment for metered parking downtown, but the disadvantages of free parking are no revenue for the city and no incentive for people to move their cars, which clogs parking spots. That revenue may be needed to provide new parking. The concept of a lack of parking is open to interpretation and may be defined by some drivers as no parking places in front of their destinations. Willingness to walk a short distance opens up new parking parameters.
The cost of the study invites criticism, but the quality of the recommendations will determine whether or not it was worth the price. Ideally it will shake up a few preconceived notions and we hope residents and city officials will be open to its conclusions and willing to give them a chance. That said, a recommendation of diagonal parking, should it come, would be a hard sell. Lee and West Stockbridge provide examples of why.