By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — There will soon be another committee formed to look at parking in the downtown. This one comes at the request of the Chamber of Commerce and the committee will consist of as yet unnamed local merchants.
Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio brought the idea to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting Monday night. He said that Chamber of Commerce has decided to have a liaison to Town Hall, and he has been meeting monthly with Chamber board member Laurie Hunt to talk about concerns that the Chamber has.
One of those concerns, Maio said, is parking – both in the downtown and Greenwood business districts. In fact, Maio told the selectmen that he began meeting over last summer with a group of local merchants to talk about parking-related issues. He said that with the Chamber getting involved, he would like to formalize the committee and ask people to apply for the appointments. The only request that Maio had was that those appointed be Wakefield merchants.
“The merchants are the ones who are in the downtown every day,” Maio said. “They see it. They know what’s going on.”
Maio admitted that he was not expecting the newest parking committee to come up with a panacea or magical solution to the parking problem. But he felt that a committee of merchants might help to raise his and the board’s awareness to the specific concerns of the business owners.
He suggested a number of possible scenarios that could come out of the new parking panel, such as changing the parking time limits.
“I think we could learn from it,” Maio said, adding that the new committee would come up with some kind of report to the selectmen.
Selectman Phyllis Hull was skeptical.
“We’ve had so many parking committees,” she noted, “and nothing has happened for years and years. I do not want to see another committee that sits around and does nothing. If we’re going to get some results, I would consider that. But if we’re not, I’m opposed to another committee for parking.”
Selectman Brian Falvey wanted to know if the new committee would have a specific charge and a deadline for coming up with some conclusions. He suggested asking the committee to evaluate a list of ideas that have been previously suggested, such as parking meters or stepped up enforcement for a period of time. He urged giving the committee three months to come up with something actionable.
Selectman Ann Santos suggested having the committee look at what other towns are doing, noting that there are probably some innovative things that could be done.
Santos also agreed with Hull that there have been a number of parking committees that have done nothing. But she reminded everyone that the Board of Selectmen did try to do something — referring to the ill-fated parking garage that was part of the original Brightview Senior Living project proposal.
“We just weren’t successful,” Santos said.
Selectman Paul DiNocco suggested a fixed number of members for the committee, suggesting seven would be a workable number. He also urged the board to consider appointing the merchants that Maio has already been meeting with on an unofficial basis.
Falvey suggested that Maio or a member of the board should run the meetings of the new parking committee, and volunteered himself for the position.
Chairman Patrick Glynn suggested asking Maio to give more thought to the structure, mission and leadership of the potential new parking committee and come back to the board with some recommendations.
Other board members agreed and that’s was how the discussion ended.