Parking, parking, parking

Expect some parking spaces to be lost downtown when two-way traffic returns to Main and Irving streets. The city will determine how the spaces will be reconfigured. Some will be eliminated because they are too close to intersections or just are not safe for traffic reasons. “It will create some concern,” City Administrator/Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier said of the forthcoming reconfiguration. The city also is examining the best locations for loading/unloading areas, bus stops and 15-minute parking.

Pelissier also said there’s resistance to using the three-year-old parking deck, as it seems some people would rather drive around the block several times to find street parking. The Rahway Parking Authority is considering designating the first level of the parking garage for retail spaces so shoppers don’t have to go to the upper levels, he added. The Rahway Center Partnership also is working with merchants to devise an incentive in parking fees, such as a restaurant giving $1 off a customer’s bill so they only end up paying 25 cents for parking.

“I find it’s pretty full during the day,” Redevelopment Agency Commissioner Carlos Garay said during Wednesday night’s meeting, adding that he uses it “pretty often.” After 6:30 or 7 p.m, the deck is “quite empty from a restaurant standpoint,” Pelissier said.

There are about 150 spots currently used by construction workers and there will be 209 spaces set aside for the new condos at the adjacent hotel once it opens in the spring. The $11-million, 524-space parking deck opened in December 2004.

“There will be some problems when Lot B (behind The Waiting Room) is developed,” Pelissier said. “Those cars have to go somewhere.” Plans for The Westbury include a 324-space parking deck at the current site of Lot B, as well as 200-plus condos along Main Street.

Pelissier said parking rates also will have to examined in an effort to keep the Rahway Parking Authority solvent. Currently, 12-hour parking permits cost $65 per month. “We’ll see if we have to increase parking rates.”