PETERBOROUGH — Town Meeting voters debated a plan to study a new downtown parking lot Wednesday night, but ultimately approved the spending of up to $80,000 on a project assessment at the open session of Town Meeting Wednesday night.
About 2 percent — 114 of the town’s 4,752 registered voters — turned out to the Town House Wednesday for the open session of Town Meeting.
Department of Public Works director Rodney Bartlett said if the town decides to move forward with the new parking lot project, the town would purchase land behind the G.A.R. Hall and Peterson Realty on Grove Street to construct, own and maintain a new public parking lot.
The property that sits where Nubanusit Brook and the Contoocook River meet would be connected to Depot Park with a footbridge and would be landscaped to have green spaces that would match Depot Park, making it a contiguous park with a walking path coming over the footbridge around the proposed parking lot and wrapping around the G.A.R. Hall up to the Grove Street sidewalk.
The parking lot could have anywhere between 20 to 60 parking spaces, Bartlett said.
Between 1987 and today the town has gone from 163 public parking spaces downtown to 324 public parking spaces, Assistant Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said. However, parking at the center of downtown is often hard to find during peak hours and peak seasons, including summer and the holiday season, she said.
With plans to renovate the G.A.R Hall and a renovation of the Guernsey building already underway, parking is going to become even more difficult to find downtown, she said.
“Parking is, in my opinion, at a limit,” voter Peter Gosline said.
Some voters expressed concerns over constructing a parking lot on the shoreline. Some said public parking, in locations just out of the downtown center, such as the public lot on Summer Street, are currently underutilized.
Bartlett said a $17,000 feasibility study would be conducted first to determine if plans should move forward to design the parking lot.
Voters approved the technical assessment with a show of cards.
A $700,000 bond article to fund the replacement of the Summer Street well with a new well passed overwhelmingly in a ballot vote of 113-1.
The 20-year bond is expected to cost about $50,000.
Bartlett said the well is expected to last 40 to 50 years.
Voters also approved $120,000 for a three-year lease to purchase agreement for a new ambulance.