Friday December 14, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- The Village Board of Trustees voted to give the municipal manager and police chief authority to enforce a 30-minute parking limit in The Square on Saturday.

Bellows Falls Police Chief Ron Lake got permission during a special meeting Thursday to restrict downtown parking to 30 minutes per spot, as the Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance has scheduled a holiday concert at the opera house.

Jeremy Haskins, who manages the J & H Hardware store his family owns, attended Tuesday's regular trustees meeting and said no one has a problem with the show but many merchants in The Square are worried potential customers would not be able to find a parking space if they were all taken by concert-goers.

The one-hour concert is set to start at 1 p.m. and feature the choir, concert band and jazz ensemble from Bellows Falls Union High School.

Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen said parking in downtown spots is allowed for two hours at a time during the week, but that limit is not enforced on weekends.

Haskins said the weeks leading up to Christmas are vitally important for downtown retailers and most cannot afford to lose any business. He told the Reformer he is happy about the 30-minute parking limit slated for Saturday and said it will be helpful for downtown shops. He said it will be a good test to see if that sort of system will work for special events in the future.

Cullenen said the temporary limit will be a good experiment for the village and hopes it will alleviate any concerns merchants had.

He advises everyone attending the BFDDA concert to park near the Bridge Street Bridge or in municipal parking spots at the Bellows Falls Waypoint Center on Depot Street.

Trustee Andrew Smith said he believes the board's decision will ensure quick turnoff in the parking spots essential to downtown businesses. He added, however, that everyone is enthusiastic about the concert and he thinks it will be a great event.

The Reformer could not get in touch in Lake before presstime.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.