BERLIN — Booming crowds have prompted the Berlin Mayor and Council to outlaw parking on the often congested Powellton Ave.
“It’s just not a street, that small, that was designed for parking,” said Mayor Gee Williams.
According to Williams, Powellton has a history of becoming troublesome when people begin parking along the curb. It’s an issue that Williams admitted the town has turned a blind eye to in the past, but one he feels can no longer be ignored.
“A particular concern is with public safety vehicles,” he told the council, adding that when cars are lined up on both sides of the street “a car would come one way and another would literally have to back up” to create sufficient room.
Williams noted that Powellton usually doesn’t see both curbs loaded except during busy town events, which have been quickly filling up all available parking lots in town, pressuring visitors to search for street parking.
While Councilwoman Paula Lynch agreed that events have been overloading the avenue, she professed some worry that permanently cutting parking on Powellton would inconvenience street residents.
Berlin Police Department Chief Arnold Downing quickly mitigated those concerns.
“They already know it’s not a place to park,” he said of Powellton residents.
Downing explained that everyone who lives on the street “has a driveway and everyone uses it.”
Councilmember Lisa Hall agreed.
“If you live on that street, you know that you can’t park there,” she said.
Downing reinforced how necessary eliminating parking on Powellton is given Berlin’s growing events.
“We have more events than ever,” he said.
Downing also agreed with Williams that unimpeded access of roads for emergency vehicles is a huge concern and that the amount of blockage that affects Powellton during peak times is dangerous.
Lynch acquiesced, but showed some pessimism about the how effective cutting parking will be.
“I’m not sure ‘No Parking’ signs will stop that,” she said.
Williams noted that directing traffic is going to become an important part of hosting big events in the future.
“I think there’s got to be a way to get some mobile signage,” he said.
Still, he was adamant the “growing pains” Berlin faces is preferable to the alternative.
“I’d rather have a problem like that then empty parking lots, empty streets,” said Williams.