Parking restrictions aim to fix Walnut Beach area parking woes

Beach-goers used to be able to park pretty much wherever they wanted along the streets around Walnut Beach.
This beach season there will be some restrictions, and police will be issuing tickets to violators.

The Milford Police Commission has been reviewing parking around Walnut Beach for several reasons: A bigger crowd has found its way to the beach in the summertime, and many beach-goers park in the streets and throughout neighborhoods, sometimes parking where they shouldn’t.

Milford resident William Parry told the police commission that when the beach is full, there is “havoc” in the neighborhoods. “People park in our driveways,” he said.

City officials expect the problem will get worse now that the parking fee for the Walnut Beach parking lot has been raised from $5 to $15 for non-residents.

So, after reviewing several drafts of a parking plan for the Walnut Beach area, the police commission voted Monday night to create two-hour parking zones, no parking zones and Milford resident-only zones they believe will begin to fix the problem for area residents.

While there were few parking restrictions on East Broadway where it runs along Walnut Beach before, leaving the road lined with parked cars on busy beach days in the past, now there will be a two-hour parking limit.

The same will apply to part of Viscount Drive, as it approaches the Walnut Beach entrance.

There will be Milford resident-only parking on half of Shea Avenue and half of Joy Road, so motorists will need a Milford resident parking sticker on their car to park there.

Closer to the businesses at the corner of East Broadway and Naugatuck Avenue, there will be unrestricted parking, 15 minute parking and two hour parking areas.

Police Chief Keith Mello said an unrestricted parking area was left in place near the businesses in response to business concerns. Scoot and Paddle, for example, told him that sometimes their customers are parked for more than two hours as they use scooter or paddleboard rentals.

Susan Patrick, president of the Walnut Beach Arts and Business Association, said the area has grown, with more businesses, and she worried that making some of the roads resident-only parking could be a problem.

She said she would have preferred that the streets remain unrestricted, but appreciated the fact that the police commission is working to address parking.

Chief Mello said the department really needs more data before it can come up with a final parking plan because there are some variables as yet unknown, such as what effect the $15 Walnut Beach parking fee will have on the neighborhood.

Eventually there may be parking meters installed on East Broadway to help control parking in the area, but for now Mello believes the two-hour parking limit will have an impact.

“We’re trying a phased approach to this,” Mello said, explaining that once the beach season arrives, the department will be able to start assessing if more, or less, restrictions are needed.

Police Commission Chairman Rich Smith said there is also a possibility of creating slanted parking along East Broadway in the future, rather than having people park parallel to the curb, which would increase the amount of spaces.

If the state establishes a parking fee at Silver Sands State Park, as has been discussed, then Smith expects city officials will work with the state to create similar parking restrictions along East Broadway near Silver Sands Beach.

The Silver Sands Beach area was not included in recent parking discussions.