VSEA seeks to reduce Montpelier parking pinch
By David Taube
STAFF WRITER | February 24,2013
MONTPELIER — A state workers union is working to resolve the capital city’s long-standing parking problems, which have been compounded by a recent legislative change, construction projects and the relocation of some Waterbury state workers to Montpelier.
An online survey by the Vermont State Employees Association has gathered more than 100 responses for what kind of travel reimbursement package they would like in order to help reduce parking issues in the capital city.
The responses will help inform solutions and a discussion at a meeting from noon to 1 p.m. March 12 in the House chambers of the Statehouse.
VSEA organizing director Kristen Warner said even with the addition of the Carr Lot by Taylor Street and the Winooski River, there’s a net deficit of 290 spaces every day. At National Life, there’s a deficit of 250 spaces every day, which doesn’t include visitors, she said.
“This is a pretty huge concern,” she said. “(And) that comes from the (Buildings and General Services) commissioner.”
In late January, VSEA representatives met with state officials to reconcile the issue, bringing forth proposed solutions. The state Department of Buildings and General Services has responded to the recommendations, and the state is still evaluating how to proceed.
For the current legislative session, the state had expanded the number of reserved spots for legislators and legislative staff from 208 to 240, an increase that took away from the overall parking for state government. Warner said VSEA wants the spaces on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A November report noted that for the 1,595 state employees there year-round, parking areas adjacent to and near the Statehouse and key state buildings during the legislative session would be 992.
Traffic guidelines suggest that for every 10 people, there are eight spots, a ratio that exists when the Legislature is not in session but one that drops to six spots per 10 people during the session, according to the state.
The state last fall identified several ways to address parking woes, identifying options that range from 50 percent subsidies on bus passes to other financial incentives for measures like “vanpooling.” Michael Obuchowski, commissioner of Buildings and General Services, said funds are available for a pilot program.
The survey began last week and ends March 1.