Wednesday July 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The City Council has put the brakes on a proposal to ease parking restrictions on Tyler Street until it receives clarification on which areas would be affected by the changes.

The council on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to table Mayor Daniel L. Bian chi's request to establish a two-hour limit on both sides of the street that already have time restrictions on parking. The proposal was designed to help boost the business district's economy.

Several councilors said they were unsure whether it affected the sections of Tyler Street where parking currently is prohibited.

"I don't want to approve this and then turn around and have to change it," said Councilor at large Melissa Mazzeo, who supports the measure.

The council hopes to get clarification on the parking change from city officials at its Aug. 14 meeting and vote on the measure that night.

If approved, the new limit will take effect a week later, allowing the city time to publicize the parking change and erect new signs.

Ward 4 Christopher J. Connell believes the sections of Tyler Street without parking will remain unchanged.

"We looked at standardizing [existing] parking times," he said. "We didn't look at the areas where there is no parking."

Connell is the council's representative on the Pittsfield Traffic Commission, which recently endorsed a uniform parking limit on Tyler Street.

Currently, the parking limits on Tyler Street range from 15 to 90 minutes along most of the three-quarter-mile-long thoroughfare, according to Ward 2 Councilor Kevin J. Morandi.

A number of business owners and their customers have complained that's not enough time to shop or dine in the area, Morandi has said.

Improved parking is the latest effort to boost the Tyler Street economy.

Last spring, 11 members of the Tyler Street Business Group sponsored 10 banners that were erected on new or existing poles along the street.

The bright orange "Discover Tyler Street" pennants are intended to encourage people to stop and shop at the area's stores, according to the merchant organization.

On Sept. 8, the group will hold its third annual "Dis cover Tyler Street" celebration, featuring live outdoor entertainment, activities and special sales from the local merchants. The one-day event held on a Saturday was established in 2010 akin to the city's popular monthly Third Thurs days. The monthly North Street block party from May through October has been a major factor in the city's downtown revitalization.

Last fall, the group requested and the city agreed to use Tyler Street as the route for the annual Pittsfield Hallo ween Parade, traditionally held on North Street. Mar cella had said the parade was a big hit with shopkeepers and area residents and she hopes it will return this year.