CITY - STATE COMMISSION
(29 V. S. A. Chapter 8)

INTERIM REPORT WITH RECOMMENDATIONS

To

The House and Senate Institutions Committees

And To

The Montpelier City Council

January 15, 1997

 

The City - State Commission

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Undisplayed Graphic

State
Senator Vincent Illuzzi, Chair
Representative Karen Lafayette
Montpelier Resident Candace Moot
Commissioner John Zampieri

City
Mayor Charles Karparis, Vice-Chair
Senator William Doyle
Montpelier Resident J. Paul Giuliani
Montpelier Resident Stephan Syz


 

January 15, 1997

TO: The House and Senate Institutions Committees of the Vermont General Assembly and to the Montpelier City Council

COPY TO: Governor Howard Dean

Pursuant to the provisions of 29 V. S. A. Section 211(b)(2), as amended by Section 59 of Act. No. 185 of 1996, the City -State Commission hereby submits this interim report with recommendations.

Creation Of Commission

The City -State Commission was created by Act No. 62 (the Capital Construction Bill) of the 1995 General Assembly to encourage cooperation between the State of Vermont and the City of Montpelier in solving mutual problems and planning for the future growth of the capital city.

Commission Members

The commission consists of eight members -- four from the state and four from the city.

State: the commissioner of state buildings, [ The 1996 General Assembly merged the Department of State Buildings with the Department of General Services into the new Department of Buildings and General Services.] the chair of the Senate Institutions Committee; the chair of the House Institutions Committee or his designee; and a person appointed by the chair of the Senate Institutions Committee.

City: the mayor of Montpelier; Montpelier Resident J. Paul Giuliani; the chair of the Montpelier Conservation Commission; and the senior senator from Washington County.

Parking Problems In Montpelier

Parking is limited in downtown Montpelier. Business owners complain the lack of adequate, short term parking has hampered sales opportunities. State employees and those visiting state offices and the Statehouse in the Capitol Complex District complain of insufficient parking, especially while the General Assembly is in session. Complicating matters is that in March, 1996, Montpelier voters rejected making an appropriation to continue any shuttle service. The service ran between the Department of Employment and Training (DET) parking area, downtown Montpelier and the offices of National Life Insurance Company. Opponents primarily complained about the lack of ridership, which in turn was blamed on longwaits for a bus. [ The Agency of Transportation has resumed the shuttle service for the 1997 legislative session. The announced route, which will include service to state offices at National Life, was rejected by unaminous vote of the City - State Commission on December 10, 1996. ]

Previous efforts by the state to build a 700 space parking garage along the Winooski River were scrapped when local opposition was generated. However, in two other Vermont cities, Burlington and Rutland, parking garage construction has been approved to support downtown economic revitalization. [ On December 10, 1996, Burlington City announced plans to construct a 720 space parking garage to support development of 150,000 square-foot department store to anchor Burlington Square Mall. In November, Burlington voters approved a $20 million bond to in part pay for a 400 space parking structure at the Burlington International Airport. The Burlington Free Press, December 11, 1996. Appendix A . In Rutland, construction is about to begin on a Multi- Modal Facility, which will include a 600 car parking garage and transit center.]

Therefore, as its first order of business, the commission undertook a study of ways to increase short term parking opportunities in the downtown business district and in the Capitol Complex District. The commission held several public hearings. [ News articles from The Montpelier Bridge and The Times Argus . Appendix B .] It retained the services of a consulting group to review previous parking and planning studies, interview interested and affected persons and to prepare recommendations. The final report was issued in October. [ Montpelier Parking and Circulation Study, October, 1996 by Community Planning & Design of Richmond, in consultation with Marilyn Ryba, AICP, Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart Inc. Appendix C .]

Based on the testimony, the consultant’s study, as well as the deliberations of the commission, ten action items were unanimously approved and are hereby recommended. The commission rejected, on a 4-3-1 vote, a proposal to require state employees hired, and members of the General Assembly first elected, in 1997 to park their vehicles at the DET parking area and shuttle into the Capitol Complex District. [ T he General Assembly is requested to enact a statute governing the use of parking areas in the Capital Complex District, substantially as follows: "Unless explicitly contrary to the master contract between the Vermont State Employees Association and the state, any employee appointed or hired after July 1, 1997 by the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, or any entity thereof, shall as a condition of employment park his or her motor vehicle at the designated DET parking area, unless a space has been designated for the employee by the commissioner of DBGS at a specific location elsewhere. This condition of employment shall apply to members of the General Assembly elected or appointed to his or her first term of office after November 1, 1998. The secretary of administration shall consult with VSEA to determine which employees shall because of job description and duties be authorized to park in the Capitol Complex District. "] Although rejected by the commission, it is noted that this concept may be the subject of collective bargaining between the Executive Branch and the association representing the interests of unionized state workers.

Commission Recommendations

1. Short Term Visitor Parking Encouraged. The Montpelier City Council is requested to enact an ordinance which will prohibit employees working in the downtown district from feeding parking meters, thereby depriving motorists with business stops in downtown Montpelier from easily finding parking.

To help ensure compliance with this goal, the City Council is encouraged to consider enacting an ordinance modeled after a Hanover, New Hampshire ordinance, which prohibits employees of downtown businesses from parking in designated downtown areas.

The City Council is encouraged to consider a parking plan implemented by the University of Vermont in Burlington, which provides employees with free parking and free shuttle if they park in designated areas, but which requires those who wish to park in core areas to pay for parking.

These recommendations are intended to ensure a metered parking space is used by one vehicle for no more than two hours.

Depending on the success of this action, the City Council may wish to consider providing free parking, or removing meters, in certain downtown area for short term use by visitors.

2. $200,000 Upgrade of DET Parking Areas. The 1997 General Assembly is requested to appropriate $200,000.00 to upgrade the parking areas around the Department of Employment and Training (DET) building off Memorial Drive. The upgrade should include paving, delineation, installation of an 828 phone for making free local telephone calls, public telephones and installation of appropriate signage stating the lot is available for use by any motorist for long-term parking. The inside of the building should be available as a waiting area. It is further requested that the Montpelier Police Department routinely patrol this area. Any construction activity should anticipate development of a master plan by the City-State Commission concerning recreational uses of the areas adjacent to the Winooski River. The master plan shall include a recommended location for a Multi-Modal Parking Facility.

3. Capitol Complex and Downtown Shuttle.

(a). Capitol Complex Shuttle Route A. The Agency of Transportation (AOT) and the DBGS is requested to re-institute a shuttle service between the DET parking area and state offices in the Capitol Complex District. The shuttle should ensure that riders have access to a bus at least every six minutes , including times before and after normal business hours.

(b). Downtown Shuttle Route B. At a later time, it is requested the state and city collaborate to establish a separate shuttle route to serve the needs of downtown Montpelier.

(c). Shuttle Under Supervision of DBGS. It is requested the two shuttle routes be under the supervision of DBGS. Contracts for the two services should be entered only after a public bidding process. It is requested no local, state and federal funds be used for any other shuttle service to these two areas inMontpelier that is inconsistent with this recommendation.

4. Long Term Parking. The Montpelier City Council is requested to install parking meters for long-term parking up to 8 1/2 hours on School, Court, Barre and Upper Main Streets. This action would establish that long-term parking is available at a cost on peripheral streets in the downtown core area.

5. Permit, Fee & Incentive Plan In State Parking Areas. The 1997 General Assembly is requested to oversee development of a permit, fee and incentive plan for use of state-owned or controlled parking areas in Montpelier, except for the portion of the DET parking area which is designated for public use. This plan need not be implemented until alternative parking plans are in place. Any plan should anticipate the development of a master river front plan concerning recreational uses of the areas adjacent to the Winooski River.

6. Designated Parking For DMV Customers. The DBGS is requested to designate to the extent feasible additional parking spaces immediately adjacent to and behind the State Office Building for use by customers doing business with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

7. Enforcement of Reserved Parking For Ride Share. The DBGS is requested to strictly enforce the use of "ride share" and "handicap" designated parking spaces only by authorized vehicles.

8. State Funding For City Recreation/Bike Path. AOT is requested to fund at the earliest possible convenience the proposed recreation/bicycle path from the Dog River Recreational Area to Taylor Street.

9. Support For Construction Of Two Parking Structures. The City-State Commission supports the construction of two parking structures, one adjacent to 133 State Street and the other on state-owned property behind the Thrush Tavern, hopefully in conjunction with Vermont Mutual Insurance Company and/or the U.S. Postal Service. It is intended that construction of one or both parking structures will both encourage and facilitate the preservation of the Winooski River waterfront and the creation of a park, walk lot and other uses consistent with the master river front plan to be developed for this area. Depending on security related issues, the structures could be available for city use on nights and weekends.

10. Authority To Enforce Parking Signs and Notices. The General Assembly is requested to enact a statute governing the enforcement of parking signs in state owned and controlled parking areas, substantially as follows:

23 V.S.A. Chapter 18, Section 1 is added to read:

SECTION 1234. PARKING IN STATE PARKING AREAS

(a) The commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services is hereby authorized to have placed in state owned and controlled parking lots signs and markings directing the parking, stopping, standing and operation of motor vehicles. The driver or owner of any motor vehicle in a state owned or controlled parking area shall obey the instructions of any applicable posted sign or marking.

(b) A law enforcement officer, statehouse security officer, or the commissioner or his or her designees, is hereby authorized to:

(1) enforce parking, stopping, standing and operation of motor vehicle signs and markings in state owned and controlled parking areas;

(2) issue a Vermont traffic summons and complaint, pursuant to Chapter 24 of Title 23, to the driver or owner of a motor vehicle stopped, parked, standing or being operated contrary to the instructions on an applicable posted sign or marking;

(3) pursuant to Section 1102 of Title 23, at the driver’s or the owner’s expense, move, remove, or immobilize, or cause to be moved, removed or immobilized, any motor vehicle which is stopped, parked, standing or being operated contrary to applicable posted signs and markings.

(c) Any sign or marking shall be presumed to have been placed at the direction of the commissioner unless the contrary is established by competent evidence.

(d) A driver, or the owner of a motor vehicle, whose vehicle is parked, stopped, standing or operated in violation of any sign or marking shall be assessed a penalty of $50.00.

 

THE CITY - STATE COMMISSION

 
STATE CITY

SENATOR VINCE ILLUZZI, Chair
Senate Institutions Committee

MAYOR CHARLES KARPARIS, Vice-Chair
City of Montpelier
REPRESENTATIVE KAREN LAFAYETTE
Designee of House Institutions Committee
SENATOR WILLIAM DOYLE
Senior Senator, Washington County
MONTPELIER RESIDENT CANDACE MOOT
Appointee of Chair of Senate Institutions
MONTPELIER RESIDENT J. PAUL GIULIANI
Appointed By 29 V.S.A. Section 211(c)
DBGS DIRECTOR JIM RICHARDSON
Designee of Commissioner of DBGS
MONTPELIER RESIDENT STEPHAN SYZ
Chair, Montpelier Conservation Commission