This report was created by The North Conway Business Community, and has been posted as a service to the Chamber Business Members.
The businesses in the Village of North Conway have devoted a great deal of time over the past several months to obtain a better understanding of the paid parking proposal by the Town of Conway. This research has included an assessment of its impact on the businesses, employees and our community. We spoke with consultants to the paid parking industry, other towns that have implemented paid parking, contact with companies that conduct paid parking studies, online research, discussions with Parking Today, an industry lobbying group, and reviews of town paid parking budgets. The conclusions from our research are summarized below.
· AMERICAN DISABILITIES ACT – The town parking plan has only 3 kiosks for 1 mile of parking spaces. Disabled persons will be disadvantaged and not have equal access.
· APPROVAL PROCESS – The approval process by the town was not inclusive, too rushed and done without proper due diligence by commissioning a task force or parking study by outside consultants.
· CELLULAR CONNECTION – Cell phone connection is poor in the village especially during peak activity. Cellular connection is a necessity for a mobile phone parking app to work, as well as any kiosk. The town is taking a very big risk going ahead with paid parking when the plan may not work at all, and lose money.
· COMPETITION – The many locally owned village businesses will be at a competitive disadvantage compared to the large box store and restaurants located only a short distance from the village. All those locations have large parking lots with free parking.
· COMPARATIVES TO OTHER TOWNS – Conway is projecting revenue per parking space at the highest rate of any of the 5 towns researched. It also has the highest hourly charge and the highest parking violation fee.
· EMPLOYEE PARKING – Employees who are residents of Conway will be granted a special pass. Non-resident Conway employees will be required to park in designated parking areas. This is not fair or equitable and the areas designated for non-Conway employees to park is inadequate, and too remote from their place of employment.
· ENFORCEMENT – A new department will be created to oversee paid parking. It will be an expensive addition to the town budget. The parking supervisor will be paid $100,000 (salary + benefits) and each of the two enforcement employees will receive compensation of $75,000 (salary +benefits). We question the prudence of establishing an entirely new town function particularly given doubts the town will achieve anything close to the level of projected revenues.
· PAID PARKING INDUSTRY - The Paid Parking industry is successful and warranted in communities that have a scarcity of parking spaces. Employers have embraced paid parking as it has encouraged vehicle turnover. There is not a scarcity of parking spaces in the village such that a paid parking plan is needed.
· PRIVATE PARKING LOTS – There are over 250 parking spaces in a number of private parking lots in the village. These lots will be flooded by visitors avoiding a parking fee. This will displace village employees who use these locations. The alternate parking locations designating by the town for displaced employees is very inadequate. Furthermore, every free space taken by a visitor at a private lot will reduce the income to the town. There will be a substantial loss of revenue to the town due to this which is not reflected in the town projections of income.
· VILLAGE PARKING CAPACITY - The Village of North Conway has sufficient parking spaces for the level of visitor traffic. There is not a problem to solve due to a scarcity of parking spaces by imposing paid parking.
· REVENUE PROJECTIONS – The town revenue projections of $675,000 in year 1 and $1.100,000 thereafter are excessive. A more accurate estimate of revenues ranges from $450,000 to $275,000 using realistic assumptions and comparisons to other towns. The town plan has 447 spaces being occupied for 4 hours for the entire year. There are only 300 spaces readily used by visitors. The town has not adjusted for seasonality of usage by month, week and days of the week. There is no adjustment for the loss of income due to usage of private lots. There is not adjustment for loss of income due to passes granted to Conway residents.
· START-UP EXPENSES – We are unable to make any conclusive statements on projected start up expenses of $241,000, as there are too many unanswered questions. There is no estimate for the annual cost of the program. The actual costs for a brand new and untested project such as this always exceeds original estimates.
· VILLAGE PARKING INVENTORY - There are 300 parking spaces in the Village that are used frequently as they are within a comfortable walking distance to the town not 447 as indicated in the town parking plan and used in their revenue projections.
· VILLAGE ATTRACTIONS – Village attractions such as the Gibson Center, Schouler Park, Ski Museum and Pope Library all oppose paid parking.
· VISITOR TRAFFIC - Visitor traffic will undeniably suffer. Tourists and locals will be frustrated with the hassle of using a mobile phone device to park and will visit the shops and restaurants south of the village, or not come at all.
· VILLAGE APPEAL – paid parking will be detrimental to the charm and appeal of the village.
Open to the public
Wednesday 2/15 at 6pm - Conway Budget Committee to vote on the Paid Parking Program Proposal at the Professional Development Center
Monday, March 6 at 7PM – Town of Conway Deliberative Meeting at Kennett High School Auditorium