This photo taken Thursday shows the fenced-in
construction area behind Hartford’s City Hall. Many of the
parking spaces in this lot will be lost for parking once the
construction project is completed. A downtown businessman
has raised concerns over the number of spaces that will no
longer be available for customers of downtown businesses.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News
In the words of one Hartford
businessman, the city’s final plan for parking behind City Hall,
“just doesn’t make sense.”
Tom Niebler owns a building next door to city hall and
understands the need for as many downtown parking spaces as
possible. He isn’t happy with the city’s plan which he says will
eliminate about 20 parking spots once the ongoing city hall
renovation and construction is completed.
“We (the downtown Business Improvement District) suddenly found
out, with no communication from the city beforehand, that they
want to eliminate these parking spaces,” Niebler said. “And when
I asked to talk to city officials about it I was basically told
‘it’s a done deal, it’s going to happen and whatever you say
won’t change that.’” Niebler contends because of the City Hall
project City Hall employees will also be losing places to park.
”So they’ll have to park in other parking spaces, which in
effect will eliminate about another 20 parking spaces for use by
downtown customers,” Niebler said. “It seems city officials too
often have the attitude that whatever they want to do we
shouldn’t worry about it because they are going to do it anyway
whether we like it or not.”
Third District Alderman Rachel Mixon said she wants to
investigate Niebler’s claims and determine what exactly the
city’s final parking plan will mean for downtown after the City
Hall construction is completed. She said she will try to view
the plans before she draws any final conclusion.
“I know they will be losing several spots when the police garage
is extended,” Mixon said. “I know when you lose parking it makes
the hair stand up on the back of the neck of people in the
downtown. I know city employees have been very good about not
parking in places where downtown customers could park.
“I think it’s the city’s responsibility to make sure there is
enough parking for the businesses downtown,” Mixon said. “We
need to be creative and find additional parking somewhere.”
Niebler said members of the BID board had tried to have a
meeting with City Administrator Gary Koppelberger and other city
officials, but he said he received a call that said the meeting
was not going to occur “because it wouldn’t do any good anyway.
The plan was going to happen.”
Niebler said he doesn’t think many City Hall officials have a
real handle on what’s happening with Hartford’s downtown.
“I very seldom see people from City Hall shopping or eating in
the downtown so how can they understand the parking problem?”
Third District Alderman Barry Wintringer said he and Mixon are
attempting to coordinate a meeting between city and BID district
officials to discuss the issue.
“We’re trying to schedule the meeting for as early as next
week,” Wintringer said. “We’re hoping the meeting will be
Wintringer said the city is in the process of adding another
eight parking spaces along Johnson Street where restrictions
were previously in place.
Calls were placed to both City Administrator Gary Koppelberger
and City Planner Justin Drew seeking information and comment.
They did not return those phone calls before publication