A proposal by New London’s public safety chiefs and public works director would bar any on-street parking during winter emergencies in an effort to allow better snow removal.
According to a memorandum by City Manager Denise Rose, the suggestion has been recommended by Police Chief Margaret Ackley, Fire Chief Ron Samul, and Interim Public Works Director Keith Chapman. Currently, the city allows residents to park on one side of the street during snow emergencies and bans on-street parking downtown.
Rose said a review of the current policy was prompted by frequent snowstorms last winter. She said the winter brought a total of 68 inches of snow over 137 days in 21 storms, of which the city needed to plow the roads for seven.
Rose said on-street parking led to snow and ice accumulation in travel and parking lanes, which narrowed the travel lanes until vehicles such as school buses and fire engines could not safely navigate the streets. She said it also created line-of-sight issues for drivers and pedestrians.
“The situation grew to the point that a state of emergency was declared, and the , complimented by hired contractors, commenced a massive 18-hour a day operation for close to two weeks to clear those streets identified by the police, fire, and school departments as impassable and/or unsafe, placing the community in jeopardy,” Rose said.
The memo states that the current policy, which allows drivers to park on the even or odd side of the street depending on the year, is not well-known and confusing due to the change in year partway through winter. Rose said the group also considered establishing a permanent allowable side of the street for parking, but that this does not address the problem of snow and ice deposits.
The proposed policy, which would be in place for snow emergencies from Dec. 1 through March 31, would ask drivers to park in lots, driveways, similar paved surfaces, or front yards when a driveway is not available. The city would continue its policy of opening the and schools to residents for free parking and allow the use of lots in parks, including .
Violators of the policy would be towed, have to reimburse the costs of impoundment, and pay a parking ticket. Rose said such a policy would require the city to contract with tow companies, provide secure storage areas, and ensure that the police department has the resources for such enforcement.
A snow emergency is defined as occurring whenever an accumulation of five inches of snow or more is predicted for New London and the surrounding area. It continues for 72 hours after the snow stops falling.
Rose said that of 13 comparable Connecticut cities, eight ban all on-street parking during snow emergencies while the remaining five restrict parking to one side of the street.
The Public Works Committee of the City Council will review the recommendation before it is presented to the full council.