Selectmen to hold public hearing for commuter feedback

Darien’s Board of Selectmen is seeking public feedback from commuters as it considers new policy for parking and pickups at the Darien Metro North station. The board serves as the town’s Parking Authority and is weighing a change to regulations that would prevent anyone with outstanding parking tickets or car taxes from being issued a commuter parking permit.

Furthermore, all vehicles parked in the town lots would be required to comply with all applicable motor vehicle laws in the state in which they are registered. This would include having appropriate license plates, a valid registration and proper inspection stickers. The regulation changes could also place a time limit on how long a car could be parked in the lot; inoperable or abandoned vehicles could be removed by the town at the owner’s expense.

Town Administrator Kate Buch said the town has had disagreements with commuters about the proper display of license plates in the parking lots and there was at least one case in which a non-functioning car was left at the station for about a year. With no regulation on the books to allow for the car to be towed, the town struggled to have the vehicle removed.

The board is also considering whether the Darien train station needs a designated queuing area for taxis and commuter pickups. Buch has received complaints regarding vehicles waiting to pick up passengers getting off on the north side of the station. The long line of cars can block parking spaces and obstruct traffic at the station at peak hours. However, the board is not entirely sure if the problem can simply be solved by policy.

Board members agreed that any policy change would need to impact both taxi services and regular drivers waiting at the station. Creating a waiting area could mean losing a number of parking spots in the relatively packed commuter lot. Those on the waitlist for commuter parking passes can expect to wait seven or eight years before receiving a parking permit, and even then, the permit does not guarantee an available spot in the lot.

Selectman Susan Marks mentioned that the Fairfield train station employs a police officer to manage traffic flow and ensure that cars are not waiting for extended periods, in similar fashion to an airport pickup area.

Still, the board is looking for more feedback before adopting policy that may create an issue rather than addressing one. The Board of Selectmen plans to hold a public hearing for commuter feedback on these potential policy changes during its Sept. 10 meeting.