Officials launch survey about parking in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — How easy is it to park in downtown Pittsfield?

That's what city leaders are looking to find out in a survey launched online Wednesday. Paper copies are also available in the city clerk's office.

The survey process follows recent debate over how successful the city's downtown parking plan has been. Consultants and stakeholders took careful stock of downtown parking before the City Council approved changes to the plan in 2016.

Several city councilors suggested in August that the city bring back a parking consultant.

The survey asks how often people visit downtown, for what purposes and about the length of their average visit.

"What is the biggest barrier you face to visiting Downtown?" the survey asks, requesting participants choose between feelings of safety, drivability, price and availability of parking, and ease of use at the kiosk.

It goes on to ask people to rate the general availability of parking, and to elaborate on the downtown parking plan's ease of use. The survey period is open through Jan. 28.

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Interim Public Services Commissioner Ricardo Morales said that last month the city hired the same consultants that reviewed downtown parking several years ago, though they now work for Stantec, which the city contracted for $22,500. He said the city also reconvened a working group on the subject, made up of downtown business leaders and officials.

The group will work with consultants to analyze downtown parking behaviors, evaluate public perceptions of parking in Pittsfield as well as look more deeply at the city's existing management. They'll be looking, too, at signage, costs and taking stock of parking inventory.

"With the issues identified, we will work to make any changes, any corrections, any further implementations," he said.

Morales said the mission is to identify strengths and areas for improvement. He expects the work to wrap up in time to present findings to the City Council in March.

Jesse Cook-Dubin, president of the board at Downtown Pittsfield Inc. and a member of the city's working group, said he was pleased with the city's hiring choice. He said he'd like to see the city recommit to full implementation of the consultants' suggestions.

"I thought it was very positive the consultants that the city hired are the same consultants," he said. "I think very, very highly of them, and they understand the city's parking system as well as anybody."

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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