HUDSON – It has been nine years since a comprehensive downtown parking study was done for the town of Hudson.
The town is gearing up to conduct another study on the parking in the downtown area. So far, a scope of work has already developed.
Downtown parking encompasses the following locations: the Rail Road Avenue lot near the Hudson Senior Center; the Hudson Public Library and Fire Station lot; the 6 to 8 South St. lot; Town Hall Parking lot; Avidia Bank lot; the 121 Main St. lot across from Cellucci Park; the South Street lot behind the Horseshoe Pub and the skate park lot.
“A significant focus of the study will be on the data collection, doing the turnover analysis and working with the Steering Committee,” Community Planning and Development Director Kristina Johnson said.
There isn’t one singular issue for parking in downtown Hudson, she said.
The goal is to understand how parking assets are being used and answer questions such as a need for more overnight parking or parking for more than two hours.
“That will all be guided by the data collection,” Johnson said.
The study is fully funded, and there will be a recommendation of the study from the Internal Traffic Committee with the Select Board giving the final approval of the report.
What the study will include
As of March 20, Johnson said the review of consultants was still underway with the anticipation of selecting a team by the end of that week.
She said a notice to proceed will be issued for the selected consultant by April, and the study is anticipated to be completed with its final report by the end of the year.
There are four main tasks involved in undertaking a study, according to information provided by Johnson.
The first entails an inventory of the on-street and off-street parking facilities, their governing regulations for them and an analysis of projected development and redevelopment priorities for downtown. The report will quantify all of the parking spaces available and describe the priority development opportunities.
The second task will involve conducting detailed surveys and interviews to get a better understanding of why parking is used more in some parts of downtown, but not in others. The aspects of this task could include signage that may be lacking or confusing, the impact of time limits and how parking generally functions for different users in downtown.
Stakeholders including visitors, business owners, property owners and residents will be interviewed. The questions will focus on demographics, parking locations and preferences, the purpose of visitors to downtown, deliveries made in the area and the general perception of availability of parking.
Other stakeholders included will be town staff, the downtown parking enforcement officer, the Downtown Business Improvement District, Hudson Business Association, the Assabet Chamber of Commerce and the Select Board.
Additional challenges related to availability, regulatory framework and enforcement of limits will be addressed.
The third step will consist of conducting field surveys of on- and off-street parking in downtown to figure out the actual use of the spaces.
The data collection will be compared to information collected in 2014 to understand if parking use and enforcement has changed over time. There will be a study area designated, and collection will be done once in late winter and once in early spring.
The most likely days for this data collection is a Thursday or Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and four hours of parking turnover counts on the on-street and public parking facilities will be done on a weekday.
The fourth and final task will be to conduct an analysis of the data collected and survey results to develop a short-range and long-range list of recommendations and parking management strategies. The recommendation will come with the understanding of the future priority development opportunities and may look into regulatory adjustments, the possibility of public/private partnerships to increase parking, opportunities for overnight parking and need for commercial loading zones.
Johnson said they will be “having some public workshops to develop some recommendations for the town, which will then get put into a final report.”
Most importantly, there will be two separate public forums, which have yet to be scheduled, that will be held with in-person and hybrid capabilities.
“It will be beneficial for the town to understand what the usage of its parking assets are,” Johnson said.