Correction made, 1:20 p.m., Jeff Speck, not Jim Speck. Updated, more info about lane width.
NORWALK, Conn. – A plan to put seven new on-street parking spaces in SoNo was approved Wednesday by the Norwalk Zoning Commission.
The parking spaces, which will be across from the Maritime Aquarium on North Water Street just north of the intersection with Washington Street, are part of a plan developed by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency to make the roadway between Washington Street and Marshal street more pedestrian friendly. They will be in front of a development under construction, now called SoNo Ironworks, where the Norwalk Company used to be.
“Anyone that has a store there deserves to have some parking,” Zoning Commissioner Nate Sumpter said, in announcing his support for the plan.
The plan approved by the Department of Public Works includes narrowing the North Water Street travel lanes north of the Metro North bridge from 11 feet to 10 feet. The proposed sidewalk in front SoNo Ironworks will be 13 feet wide instead of the 16-foot wide sidewalk originally planned. Travel lanes in that area will then be 11 feet wide, with one row of on-street parking. Pedestrian bump-outs across from the aquarium parking lot’s driveways would prevent parking there.
Commissioner Jim White said he travels that road often.
“I think the parallel parking aspect is going to create traffic problems,” he said. “I am opposed to this but I am willing to go along with the committee.”
“I think you’re right, there’s going to be an issue,” Commissioner Mike Mushak said. “But … there’s hardly ever a queue there. It’s only a certain time of the year. I personally think the (southbound) lane should be wider (than the northbound lane), but that’s up to the traffic authority and I think they’ll figure it out.”
He reminded everyone that Jeff Speck, author of “Walkable Cities, How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” told city officials in May that parked cars are important for the safety of walkers. A wider southbound lane would give people more room to open their car doors and therefore lessen the probability of a bicyclist getting injured, he said.
The vote to authorize the plan was unanimous.