Like many older New England communities, Peterborough was not originally designed with parking in mind. Our downtown is tightly packed and built at the confluence of two rivers, and our streets are narrow. Where this type of urban design was ideal in the 18th and 19th centuries, today it presents a multifaceted challenge:
• Finding locations for parking that is convenient for shoppers, employees and diners;
• Making sure that chosen locations do not have negative environmental or aesthetic impacts;
• Keeping the cost of construction and ongoing maintenance to a minimum; and,
• Respecting the historic features and settlement patterns of the downtown.
Over the winter of 2013/2014 the Select Board directed staff to develop a public outreach program to learn from the community what they truly needed in terms of parking, and designed a public forum which would allow residents, business owners and patrons to help the Town choose the best location and structure to respond to the identified needs.
In the end, through substantial public input and support, the Town chose the former Boston & Maine railroad corridor, behind the GAR Hall on Grove St., for the location of a new parking lot and footbridge that will connect the lot to Depot Park. This footbridge, crossing over a downtown river, also serves to extend the common pathway that runs north/south through the town and will provide a significant amenity to enhance the walk-ability of the town center. The initial funding for the engineering and permitting of the project passed by a wide margin at Town Meeting in 2014, and a bond for the construction of the lot was approved at Town Meeting in 2015. Construction began on the new Grove St. Parking lot and pedestrian footbridge in the spring of 2017. Both are expected to be completed by spring of 2019.
Below is a selection of studies, public forum handouts, local media articles, and reports that residents, stakeholders, and public officials have utilized over the past two decades to inform the downtown parking decision making process.