Village now owns parcel across from village office; parking lot plan in the works

by Dan McClelland
The village recently received the title from Franklin County for the vacant parcel at 56 Park St. across from the village office which the village wants to officially designate for public parking.
The county took ownership for the parcel for back taxes and arrangements were made to eventually transfer it to the village.
It has been used for parking on an unofficial basis for much of the time since 2002 when the structure on it was razed by the village.
Village Clerk Mary Casagrain reported to the board at November's monthly meeting that she had filed an application with the town and village planning board for a special use permit to create a parking lot there.
“In talking with Planner Paul O'Leary he said he believes a few of his members may want some type of landscaped green space in the front,” she told the board members.
Code Enforcement Officer Peter Edwards said that a three-year temporary permit is all that will be needed “as parking lots are not listed for special review uses” in the local zoning plan.
Trustee Ron LaScala said he felt it didn't require a special use permit, given its long history as an informal parking lot.
Mr. Edwards said any planning board action would be just “a formality.”
Mayor Paul Maroun said he was hopeful the planners would deem the lot suitable for public parking “because we really need more parking in the village right now.”
On the agenda of the planning board that same evening was a request from the village for a three-year temporary use permit to have the parcel officially designated for public parking in the uptown business district.
The issuance of such doesn't require a public hearing, but the permit would be reviewed by the planners every three years, it was noted.
Planner Paul O'Leary said it was the board's option that night to approve the request or table it for more information.
Member Shawn Stuart wondered if the entrance to it would be changed and Mr. Edwards, who was also in attendance at the second meeting, said it wouldn't be.  “-And we don't intend to blacktop it for now!”
Member Jim Merrihew wondered if vehicular traffic that was parked there would “nose” up to the brown building next door, which is currently for rent.  Mr. Edwards thought they would be parked that way.
He mentionedthe suggestion of the green area and said the planners could make that a conditionfor approval.
Mr. Merrihew liked the idea saying something like a 50-foot long strip of green along the front would certainly “add to the appearance of the business district.”
Mr. Stuart suggested tabling the matter until the planners could come up with their own ideas for the lot.
“At the very least I'd like to see a parking lay-out of the ways the cars would be parked there,” he told Mr. Edwards.
Chairman Jim Larkin liked the idea of the green buffer along the sidewalk.
Mr. Stuart also wondered about the village's plans for lighting and Mr. Edwards said there weren't any plans for that at this point.  “It may turnout we need more lighting there,” more than what the street lights near the lot would provide, he added.
The chairman suggested the village provide its design for the new lot for consideration at the planning board's December meeting.