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Fairfield Metro Update: DOT Wants More Parking

First Selectman Michael Tetreau briefed the RTM on the Metro Center at the body's Monday meeting.

 

First Selectman Michael Tetreau delivered the latest on the Fairfield Metro Center, , at Monday’s Representative Town Meeting.

Due to the holidays, this month’s RTM was scheduled a week earlier than usual; Tetreau said that the cost updates had not been reported to him yet and were not incorporated in his briefing to the town body.

Thus the $40.8 million in total project costs hasn’t changed since the First Selectman last spoke to the RTM, nor have the expected use of contingency funds.

for the projected expenses for construction, he said.

Letter of Credit

Several surprises have cropped up since the last briefing. The First Selectman revealed that the contract with BlackRock Realty included that the company give the town a letter of credit for $500,000 -- an item that has not been mentioned recently.

Tetreau said he asked BlackRock Realty for that letter of credit and will keep the RTM updated on that progress.

Should BlackRock Realty not comply, the company would be in breach of its contract with the town, Tetreau said. However, a deadline for the letter was never stated in the contract, but neither was an expiration date for the town to receive it.

Train Depot/Concourse Building

Another murky aspect of the portrait, which Tetreau briefed the RTM on, is the development of BlackRock Realty’s concourse building -- or at least, a train depot that would house waiting commuters and restrooms.

According to the contract, if the building is not done in three to five years, it becomes the town’s responsibility.

The question Tetreau and other town officials are looking into is when that time period begins -- as soon as construction on the building began, or when the train station opened, or whether it dates back to when construction on the station itself began.

“I want to emphasize to BlackRock that they’ve got to do it,” Representative Ed Bateson, R-3, told Tetreau. “We’ve done more than enough for those guys.”

Tetreau assured he and others involved would do everything in their power to keep the concourse building under BlackRock Realty’s responsibility.

Parking Spots

The end result of parking spaces at Fairfield Metro -- 1,369 -- is in violation of the 2003 contract with the state, which apparently stated that there must be 1,500 parking spots at the station that would be under the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) regulation.

Because of the shortfall, which Tetreau and other town officials are currently negotiating with the state, up to 131 parking spots at the downtown station may be handed over to DOT.

The spots have to be “comparable” to what the DOT presides over at the Metro Center, so the downtown parking spots will be located on the south side of the station, where some downtown merchants were supposed to be leasing the spots.

As Moderator Jeff Steele, R-2, pointed out, this would be a “win-win” situation for commuters; if DOT gets those spots back, they would no longer be leased to merchants, but used for commuter parking.

Access Road

Once the station portion of the project is complete and all paperwork finished, the town will own the road that cuts through the site, known now as Access Road.

DOT will oversee the Bridgeport side of the road, but the town will maintain the Fairfield side -- taking care of potholes and clearing it of snow during the winter, Tetreau said.

The First Selectman’s Office will be taking suggestions for an official name for the road.

More Grant Money

While members of the RTM approved the $3 million grant for parking lot costs from the state on Monday, Tetreau revealed that there is still some grant money out there to reimburse for intersection improvement inspections.

The town can apply for $300,000 to $400,000 in grants from DOT, Tetreau said. This money would reduce the amount the town would have to bond in the future, he added.

Restrooms

Tetreau said the opening of the station was surprisingly smooth and his office has been getting few questions about the trains and their schedules, but the No. 1 question remains -- where are the restrooms?

“DOT said it’s not part of their plan, they're not doing it,” Tetreau said. DOT is responsible for amenities like

Representative David Becker, R-1, asked Tetreau if perhaps something like portable restrooms could be something the town could take care of.

Tetreau said that it depends on how many parking spaces such a facility would “chew up…they’re adamant about getting all those spots.”

He assured that the town would start looking into some options.

S. Frank December 20, 2011 at 02:32 PM
He's looking for more parking? That's funny! I got off a peak hour train from Grand central at FFLD metro last Friday along with a throng of 11 others. Hardly the case for more $$, no matter whose $$, for more parking. The lot was less than 1/2 full. Boy, did we ever need this additional train station.
TJC December 20, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Was this his direct quote, or does someone at Patch need a Grammar refresher? “DOT said it’s not part of they’re plan, they’re not doing it.” And if they are responsible for bathrooms, how can they not provide them? Who's running this show?
Fairfield Resident December 20, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Dear CTDOT: Commuters want MORE parking spaces at the DOWNTOWN Fairfield Train Station! Yay!! 5 More YEARS on the Waiting List For Me! (3 Down......5 to Go!)
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 20, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Wow -- thanks for pointing that out. It's been fixed. And there are no updates on the restrooms on the DOT side.
Melioro December 21, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Caitlin, What would be a valuable addition to this piece from a Fairfielder perspective, is how this new station has affected the permitting in Fairfield. For example, how has it affected the wait times for a permit? How many people are on the "new" waiting list? Have all the passes been given out at the new station? How many were given out to date? etc. Look forward to hearing more about this. Thanks.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Melioro -- I can tell you I've been in contact with the Parking Authority regarding wait lists and permits and the most recent information I have is that they are still sorting out permits for those on wait lists for the downtown and Southport stations. They have discussed hiring a temp to help sift through everything and get permits out faster to people on the waiting lists. I know they've been sending out letters to those on wait lists in waves to see if people want to switch to the Metro Center, and the last batch of letters that were sent were due back to the Parking Authority on Nov. 24, according to Parking Authority Chair Mary Kay Frost. As of a week or two ago, those had not been processed yet. I'll get another update and let you know what I find out regarding how many Metro Center permits have been sent out so far.
John Jameson December 21, 2011 at 08:03 PM
You may want them, but I think people need to accept that that's not happening. There's 1,400 spaces at Fairfield Metro. If commuters chose not to take advantage of that, they should stop complaining.
Melioro December 21, 2011 at 08:20 PM
I agree with John on that. Honestly, there is nowhere to put more spaces downtown and even if there were, the congestion would be horrific.
steve sheppard December 21, 2011 at 11:07 PM
So 40 million in taxpayer money for a train station that is not really being used fully. Being a commuter for 27 years it does not surprise me. I would tell the State that all non residents can only use new station.
steve sheppard December 21, 2011 at 11:16 PM
The last thing we need is to loose parking at Ffd station. Flatto to appease the downtown merchants association had all the south side parking going to the merchants after metro center up and running. The downtown merchants association lobbied hard for no expansion at current station and pushed for metro center. I happen to know who the parties are and my payback is I will never do business with any of them
steve sheppard December 21, 2011 at 11:18 PM
As far as i'm concerned they did not look at the big picture and that a parking garage would of helped their business on the weekends with lots of parking
John Jameson December 22, 2011 at 02:38 PM
It wasn't just merchants, Mosswood Condos vowed that they would fight a parking garage every step of the way. It's entirely possible that if a downtown garage was the plan that was followed that it would still be tied up in the courts, and there would have been lots of taxpayer money spent on legal fees and nothing to show for it. And the traffic would have been horrific on Mill Plain Road, Unquowa Road and Carter Henry Drive. It's bad enough already, commuters have little regard for other motorists when rushing to catch a train or leave at the end of the day.
OneFairfield December 22, 2011 at 03:20 PM
LETS MOVE FORWARD! THE PARKING IS WONDERFUL. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE ALONG TIME AGO IF NOT FOR THE SO CALLED "CONCERNED CITIZENS" WHO HELD THIS UP IN COURT WHILE THE ECONOMY TANKED. IF THEIR IS BLAME IT IS ON BATESON, HARRISON ETC. THEY COST THE TOWN A LOT OF MONEY
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) December 22, 2011 at 05:10 PM
RTM Rep. Michael Herley, R-1, who is also a commuter, notified Patch this morning that the $6 day parking fee has been waived until January 2012, according to the parking attendant he spoke with this morning.
steve sheppard December 22, 2011 at 05:54 PM
That is a smart move they should have no fee for a few months to create a demand. I would also more all non-resident commuters to the Metro Center as that would free up space on the waiting list. Remember the majority of commuters leave before 7:30 in the morning and do not start to return until after 6 pm. Commuters really have no impact on traffic as we are gone before school and the business community starts their day and we get home after schools are closed and businesses are closed. We have very little impact on traffic. If they are looking to name the access road bridge I would name it Flatto's Folly.
Fairfield Resident December 22, 2011 at 06:26 PM
John: Why would I take a parking space (even though I still have at least 5 MORE years on the Waiting List) at a train station that is across town from where I live as opposed to one that is in my neighborhood? Melioro: The town could build a second level of parking over the existing lot on the New York bound side at the downtown station. The congestion is already "horrific" downtown anyway.
Fairfield Resident December 22, 2011 at 06:28 PM
I like the way you think steve! Vote with yuor wallet!
Fairfield Resident December 22, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Bingo! We Have a Winner!
Fairfield Resident December 22, 2011 at 06:36 PM
The Mosswood Condo owners don't have a leg to stand on. There already is a parking lot below their "homes". If a second level of parking was built over that lot they would still see the same thing....a big parking lot full of cars during the day. It's not like a wooded lot is below their "homes" and it was going to be leveled for a large parking lot. Traffic can be controlled with properly timed traffic lights and signage and traffic agents paid for by the revenue from the parking permits and day parking revenue.
Fairfield Resident December 22, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Exactly! The "increased" traffic argument is total BS.
John Jameson December 22, 2011 at 09:51 PM
I work near the downtown station; it's not BS. And even the downtown and southport train stations belong to the state--I don't think you can just arbitrarily move commuters with a permit for those stations just because they don't live in Fairfield. If you want to get off the waiting list, why don't you move to Fairfield Metro?
Newtotown December 24, 2011 at 01:19 AM
I was only the wait list only a few months and I already have a pass to the new station. It works for me, since I live over on the Bridgeport end of town and it saves a lot commuting time and money. I was parking at KoC parking lot which is cheaper than the day rates in big lot. So for me, I feel lucky that the new train station just came online, I save money and commuting time. Plus, I get on the train one stop earlier and have less of the mad scramble at the main station. It does seem to me, though, that the biggest winners in the creation of the new station are the Black Rock residents of Bridgeport, many of whom can bike or walk to the new station. It's awfully nice of the taxpayers of Fairfield to subsidize them. I do also question the planning and oversight of the implementation of this project. It seems this project was greatly oversold. But overall, I am happy to get the permit at the new station.
Fairfield Resident December 24, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Well.....Goody For You Newtotowm.
Melioro December 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Fairield resident: that comment brought nothing to the table. Bottom line is, in 6 months time that station will be just as utilized as downtown. Empty spots a week after they open means nothing. Word was slow to get out that the parking was free and there is still a backlog of getting permits out. We needed another train station. It was unfortunate that the process was a riddled with issues as it was, but t the en of the day I am happier with that than the rotting, toxic land that would have remained had nothing occured. Fairfield is a large town. There are people that are afforded a convenience they didn't have before with a station so close. I do think we need to get over it, understand that some change is good, and this was a better decision than a parking garage, which would have (whether you agree or not) been more expensive, more disruptive, created too much congestion downtown, and would have cost a lot of money to fight in court.
Newtotown December 24, 2011 at 08:21 PM
A certain group will always be bitter that they did not build a massive new parking garage downtown a la SoNo. They will never be happy with the new station under any circumstances. These are the same people that flock to the Internet to whine. So while we note your protestations, the game is over, you lost. This is not to absolve Flatto and his cronies of their potential malfeasance, there should be far greater accountability and the extent the damage inflicted on the town by Flatto is yet to be known (see above article for yet further revelations). But let's try and make this new station work. Not every will use it or love it, but many people never use the Southport station either.
Pi December 26, 2011 at 10:59 AM
I'm don't see anyone "whining" and I am more than willing to give the new station a shot. No one expects the town to rip down the new train station and put up a parking structure. What I do wish for, and what this town WILL learn, is that they need to think harder before going with such a terrible plan. The area where they built this station is already heavily congested. The bottom of Black Rock Turnpike and the corners of Grasmere Avenue/Kings Highway can be bad to navigate. Now lights have been moved around on the former and installed at the latter which only makes things worse. It's now another section of town that I avoid.
Alrick H Man IV December 26, 2011 at 02:41 PM
But what about the bathrooms?
Fairfield Resident December 26, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Pee in the bushes.

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