At their regular selectboard meeting on Wednesday, August 2, selectboard members approved several changes to the ordinance – changing a yield sign at the intersection of Haystack Road and Chimney Hill Road to a stop sign, posting Look Road as a 25 mph zone, correcting the spelling of Myhre Hill Drive – and, according to the posted meeting minutes, prohibiting overnight parking, 2 am to 6 am, in municipal parking lots from November 15 to April 15.
Wilmington resident Jack Dolan says the change will leave some village workers and residents without a place to park their vehicles overnight or during late night and early morning working hours. “My main concern is the people who live in the village and don't have a place to park their cars other than the municipal lots,” Dolan says. “They can't park on the street, so where are they going to park? It puts them in a complete bind.”
Dolan also notes that there are restaurant workers and other employees who begin work before 6 am and need to park somewhere in town, as well as bar employees who work past 2 am.
Ginny Blake, owner of the Village Pub on South Main Street, says she's concerned about how her employees, who often park at the nearby Dixon Lot or the Church Street Lot may be affected by the change. “We close at 2 or 2:30 am, and we don't get out of here until 3 am,” she says. “They're saying vehicles have to be out of the lot at 2 am. That seems a little harsh.”
Blake is also a landlord, renting four apartments above the pub. With no on-site parking, she says her tenants would have to arrange private parking elsewhere or get up at 2 am every morning to move their vehicles. “Where are they supposed to park?” Blake asks. “They want their cars to be in a safe place, and the municipal lot is one of the safest places to park overnight.”
She says her tenants are already careful to move their cars every day, so they don't violate the maximum 24-hour parking limit for the lots.
According to Wilmington Selectboard Chair Tom Fitzgerald, the change in the ordinance was a reaction to the town highway department's frustrating experiences clearing the lots during winters with heavy snowfall. “They couldn't plow the lots because people had parked their vehicles and left them,” Fitzgerald said. “(Road supervisor) Bill Hunt came to us and asked us to at least try not having parking there during storms.”
Fitzgerald says the change is temporary at this point, intended to last a year before it's reviewed. “If it's really adverse, it will be reconsidered. But we've got to do something.”
And, although the minutes of the meeting appear to suggest that overnight parking is banned from all municipal lots, the updated ordinance, confirmed by Fitzgerald, only specifies the Dixon and Church Street lots. The parking area behind the shops on West Main Street will remain open for overnight parking year round. But Fitzgerald says the future of that lot, which was created by the town through multiple lease agreements with West Main Street property owners, is uncertain. “Interim Town Manager Gretchen Havreluk has been trying to renew the leases,” Fitzgerald says, “But only two have signed.”
Under the lease terms, the town provides maintenance of the West Main Street lot, including the winter plowing. Without the signed lease agreements, there may be no parking and no snow removal in the lot.
But even if the agreements are signed by winter, Blake questions whether pushing parking farther away is safe for her employees. She says it can be dangerous to be walking the streets in a snowstorm at 3 am. “What am I supposed to say when my girls ask me where they're supposed to move to? Someone said they could park over by the recycling, but nobody wants to walk there, alone, at 3 am. And where are my elderly and disabled tenants supposed to park?”
Dolan says he has gotten a lot of positive response from his petition, as well as angry reactions when people hear what it's about. “I understand the town's problem, and some people abuse the municipal parking. Well, tow the abusers.”
Dolan's petition can be found at the Cup 'n' Saucer restaurant, C&S Beverage, Pettee Memorial Library, the Village Pub, Bartleby's Books, Dot's, North Star Pizza, Twice Blessed, the Coffee House, and