As of last Monday, the parking lot at the end of Spring St. has been closed off for a six-week renovation. According to Tom Mahar, the project manager, the renovation will add about 25 more spaces to the lot and allow for “more fluid traffic flow.” The plan, he said, is to square off the lot by expanding it westward and creating a center island.
The renovation of the lot, often used by customers of Spring St. businesses such as Tunnel City Coffee and Where’d You Get That!?, has temporarily restricted parking for customers. Despite this temporary difficulty, Mahar sees the project as having long-term benefits for Williamstown. Originally calling only for repaving, plans for the parking lot changed to include the addition of more spots, as well as a greater proportion of temporary parking spots so to allow for increased space turnover.
The increase in temporary parking spots comes in response to concerns from people who use the lot for shorter periods of time, like students and customers. Currently, a large portion of the spots are taken up by employees of Spring St. businesses. Michele Gietz, co-owner of Where’d You Get That!?, believes that Spring St. commerce will benefit from ensuring that spots are more readily available to potential customers, who otherwise may have to circle down the street again in the hope of finding an empty spot. “We don’t want this downtown to go away,” she said.
In the meantime, downtown businesses, Williamstown officials and College officials have been working collectively to find temporary parking for those who work on Spring St. According to Gietz, Spring St. businesses employ about 160 people. A meeting last week was held at The Log, attended by Gietz and several other business owners, to discuss parking for employees during the renovation and future changes in the downtown parking situation.
One of the solutions that came out of the meeting was to create two-hour parking spots along one side of Meecham St., which will likely continue even after the parking lot has re-opened. In addition, Gietz expects there to be more stringent enforcement of temporary parking on Spring St. even after the renovation has been completed – “enough to really deter repeat offenders,” she said. She added that the College has been very positive throughout the process.
The new lot will also have improved drainage. Gietz said that the parking lot flooded badly two years ago during Senior Week. The lot is expected to re-open on May 23.