MILFORD - The town has seen the light when it comes to its winter parking ban: A new signal has been mounted on town hall to let residents know if they're free to park downtown overnight.
The new blinking yellow light, located between the front entrance of town hall and Middle Street on the Oval, will be turned on when the snow flies so that folks know that the winter parking ban is in effect, said town administrator Guy Scaife. If the light is off, parking is allowed. As long as the light is blinking, the overnight ban is in effect.
The move from the blanket winter parking ban which banned overnight parking between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. for five months out of the year - from Nov. 14 to April 15 - regardless of weather conditions, "put an unnecessary burden on the public," said Scaife.
Though the old policy made it easier for Department of Public Works crews to get into the busy downtown area and clear the streets during snowstorms, it didn't account for the fact that sometimes there's just not that much snow. Scaife said that on average, there are only 20 nights per year when the streets and municipal parking lots need to be empty to facilitate snow removal, but the ban kept parking off limits for more than 150 days of the year. And every year is different, Scaife said.
Last year there were only five nights when the roads needed to be cleared of snow, while the year before, there were 25 nights. "This new policy allows for overnight parking for all of those nights that we do not have the need for cleanup while providing a simple notification process to alert the public when the ban is activated," Scaife said.
In addition to the signal, which will be turned on no later than 4 p.m. on a night when the winter parking ban is to be put into effect, the town will also be using other methods to let the public know that parking on town streets and parking lots overnight won't be allowed. The town's website and the fire department's Facebook page will have alerts when the ban is activated, the town's cable channel will have a running announcement, and subscribers to the town's free Nixle service, which sends out automated messages, will be alerted as well.
"This new policy is much more citizen-friendly than the old policy," said Scaife.
But like the old policy, failure to heed the winter parking ban could result in fines or vehicles could be towed. The only municipal lot that is open during the winter parking ban is the Garden Street lot, next to the police station.