WESTMINSTER — The city's parking committee voted Friday to recommend that 18 downtown parking meters be removed and the spaces leased to a Main Street retail and office complex.
The Albion Lot, behind Winchester Exchange (formerly Sherwood Square Mall), is now public parking.
Winchester Exchange owner Robert Max recently approached the cityand asked to lease the lot behind the Albion Hotel, so he can issue parking permits to current and future tenants of building.
During a parking committee public hearing at City Hall on Friday, Max said the amenity of free parking will help in luring office tenants to the downtown area.
Max has offered to pay the city $3,240 a year to lease the lot, and also would pick up the cost of removing existing meters and completing any signing or striping that the conversion would require.
No one on the parking committee could say Friday how muchrevenue the city takes in from meters on the lot. But city police Chief Sam Leppo estimated that the amount was far less than what Max iswilling to pay.
The only person to testify at the hearing was Karen Blandford, the city's supervisor of Housing and Community Development. She expressed concern about limiting the availability of parkingto low-income tenants of the Albion Hotel and another adjacent low-income resident facility.
"There needs to be a balance between residential and commercial uses," Blandford said. "I fear for making it harder on residential users."
The committee suggested that some of the 18 permits -- perhaps four -- could be first offered to the residents. But Blandford said the annual cost of a permit -- which could range from $120 to $180 -- would be beyond the means of many of the residents.
The committee also considered results of a five-day survey that showed that few cars -- residents or otherwise -- use the lot.The committee decided to leave the issue of whether to apportion permits to the City Council, which likely will discuss Max's request at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the volunteer fire company at 66 E. Main St.
If Max's request is granted, permitted parking on the lot would be in effect 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.