Curious Parking Lot Signage
Despite the heat, I traipsed from Seventh Street to the Green Brook and from Roosevelt to Madison to get a look at all but one of the lots. The one that will be closed on Sept. 20 and 21 from noon to 7 p.m. turns out to be Lot 8, north of East Front Street buildings between Watchung Avenue and Somerset Street. The event is a celebration of the independence of Central America and the location was described only as Block 317, lot 19, not by parking lot number.
I always get Lot 1 and Lot 8 mixed up, so I decided to research the lots. Recent applications to land use boards for apartments have provided no parking for residents, claiming there is ample parking in city lots, another reason to look into the facts.
As usual on my walks around the city, I found some oddities. The sign pictured above directs people to obtain parking permits at the Blue Swan Restaurant. There is a Blue Swan Luncheonette listed in the 1976 city directory at 316 Watchung Avenue, but it is long gone. Why permits would be issued from a luncheonette is a bit curious. Nowadays permits must be obtained from the Parking Bureau on West Fourth Street.
Another thing I found out is that the lots are not posted with signs identifying them, except for Lot 9. An official map of the parking lots, with a chart on the number of metered, permitted and handicap spaces, may be seen in the Planning Division, but copies are not available. I took some photos and worked from them to document the lots. Unfortunately, the statistics are out of date.
These parking lots generate revenue, both from permits and from fines. Lot 7, next to my building, has 62 yellow-lined permit spaces, but only one or two car owners park there with $30 monthly permits. Only five of nine meters remain, the rest having been vandalized. The hapless church volunteer or person running an errand at Park & Seventh gets slapped with a $38 fine for parking in a permit space.
There are more than 700 permit spaces in all the lots, compared to about 200 metered spaces. Many meters are missing. Obviously, parking in a white-lined space with a missing meter is the best bargain.
This may sound like a real dog-days story, not much news content, but these currently underutilized parking lots could become an important factor in downtown residential and business development. More to follow.