More Winners Ahead In Railroad Parking Game

Last week, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a change to the railroad parking permit process. From now on, anyone added to the wait list will pay a $35 fee (one time — not annually, as reported in the Westport News).

Of that fee, $15 is kept by the town. The other $20 goes to the company managing the online system.

Alert “06880” reader Bart Shuldman wondered why the vendor gets more than we do.

Foti Koskinas — the deputy police chief who also serves as director of railroad operations — was happy to explain.

The town’s portion will go toward capital repairs needed at Westport’s 2 stations. Each is projected at more than $1 million — for infrastructure, drainage and the like.

The $20 collected by the online provider goes to programming, maintaining and updating the database.

train station parkingKoskinas stressed that the fee will be assessed only to newcomers joining the wait list. The 1650 folks already on it — now maintained on an Excel spreadsheet — will not be charged. They’ll be processed at no cost.

Koskinas says Westport will be the only town in the area where residents can access the list, see exactly where they stand, and add or remove names. Those on the wait list will also receive 2 or 3 email notifications each year, showing how far they’ve moved up.

Yes, “each year.” The current wait is close to half a decade.

But the process will be much smoother now, Koskinas says — and quicker. Now, when notices are sent out that a permit is ready, the response rate is low.

That will end soon. It’s your — or someone’s — $35 at work.


4 responses to “More Winners Ahead In Railroad Parking Game

  1. Clearly something does not seem right. If we are trying to help pay for a $2 million in repairs–the money we collect will take decades–if we add 250 people each year to the waiting list, that will net the town $3,750. Thats it. We are allowing a vendor to make almost 60% of what we collect too.

    Something just seems wrong here. We have grandfathered the people on the waiting list already, and will only get $15 of the $35 collected. And how we let the vendor to make more than the town is horrible.

    But the math does not work. At $3,750 per year, it will take over 500 years to collect the $2 million Mr. Koskinas projects.

    Someone want to explain this better?

  2. How about solving the parking problem?
    Many neighboring towns have added more spaces while they revitalized the train station areas. In Westport we could add parking while at the same time beautify by enlarging the park so greenery is the first impression instead of the huge parking lot. We would utilize the higher elevation of Saugatuck Ave. and the upper railroad parking lot to hide the garaged parking..

    Financing would be generated over a 20 year period with the additional new parking fees of all those wait-listed people. A premium fee could be utilized for the benefits of garaged parking spaces as well as the more ideal proximity to the train station. Additional revenue might also be derived by offering a premium meter option for non-permit travelers or shoppers. This will solve a problem that has existed for decades and eliminate the need for a wait list.

    • Philip: No one in town is looking after the greening of the parking lots, just the opposite, at least I haven’t heard of any position in town who has such a job. At Greens Farms, “they” (whomever makes such decisions in the town) took out the one, small green garden at the entrance to the parking lot in order to add 5 spots, foregoing any hope of aesthetics. Literally, “Paved paradise and put in a parking lot”.

      I’m sure if you looked around town there are a dozen such decisions made every year that chip away at the quality of life, from the proliferation of roadside signs (without any enforcement of the rules) to allowing another out of town bank to move in instead of a figuring out how to keep local shops.

      The “math” on those spots is the same as what Bart points out about the fees, it really doesn’t make sense, but no one adds up the obvious. – Chris Woods

      • Bart Shuldman

        cwdz-you are right thank you. If there are 1400 on the waiting list and the list is 4 years old, then on average 350 come off and 350 go on.

        With the ‘who knows why we did it’ decision for the town to take only $15 of the wait list fee, the town will net $5,250. How much will that help? One pot hole? And let’s remember the firm, who must be unbelievable for the town to give almost 60% of the new fee to get us an electronic list, they get $7,000 a year.

        So we institute a new ‘fee’ to generate what for who? So an outside company make more than the town? And with Westport getting a bit over $5,000, what will we be able to do with a few thousand dollars?

        Something seems wrong or maybe wrong the firm doing the work or wrong to collect this money at all if it cannot drive enough revenue to the town to make a difference.