Chatham Seeks Private Company to Run Eldredge Garage Lot

CHATHAM – The summer season is underway and officials in Chatham are seeking a private contractor to operate the Eldredge Garage parking lot.

The town’s Eldredge Garage Property Planning Committee and Community Development Director Katie Donovan recommended finding a private company to run the lot for the summer as opposed to installing an unattended parking kiosk or hiring seasonal gate attendants.

“Looking at all the options we feel that this option could provide the best profit for the town where experienced parking lot attendants may be able to maximize the space on the site and potentially minimize the amount of upgrades that we would have to do,” said Donovan.

Temporary upgrades include the installation of drainage structures, minor landscaping, handicap parking spaces and signage. Minimum paving work has been completed on the site.

Selectmen showed support for the recommendation of hiring a private contractor and voted to issue a request for proposals.

The RFP would indicate that firms operate the lot 7 days a week from at least 9 to 5, provide two portable toilets and liability insurance.

Parking would be free for town residents with a valid beach sticker, or transfer station and recycling stickers. The town would also request $2,500 per month from the company and a percentage of non-resident parking fees, which would be $15 per car per day.

Bids are expected to open for the RFP on July 2.

Hiring a private company is believed to be the best option as a lack of electricity on the site would hinder the ability to install an unattended kiosk and the town did not budget funds for parking lot attendants and hiring staff may be difficult this late into the season.

Donovan said the board needs to decide what the town will do with the property if there are no satisfactory proposals. Possible proposals would be to free open parking similar to other town-owned parking lots or free parking for residents by sticker.

“I don’t understand how anyone is going to make an money doing this,” said Selectman Peter Cocolis. “We will.”

Cocolis said he likes the idea of a test program for the lot for the summer if there are any companies willing to run the lot.

“I like the idea that Chatham residents don’t have to pay right now, but that creates the problem of how do you account for that for the guy that is going to be running it,” Cocolis said.

Selectman Cory Meters said the town is between a rock and a hard place right now because of the timing of the RFP.

“I’m very hesitant to allow this to go to an open lot because I don’t think it will be used in a balance community manner,” Meters said. “The concept of buying this property was for a community asset and we need to look at it from that perspective.”

The town purchased the Eldredge Garage property for $2.5 million after a town meeting vote last year.

Ideas are still being discussed for long-term uses of the property, including additional parking, retail space, affordable housing, land conservation and recreational uses, or a combination.

Donovan said the planning committee hopes to have a recommendation for long-term uses for the board sometime in the late fall or early winter.

“If the board is amenable to what their recommendation is we still need to look at designs and go through that process and permitting and such,” Donovan said. “I’m not sure that this would be the only summer that we would be looking at an interim use. I think it could last at least one more summer if not two depending on how long it takes to get the long-term proposal in place.”

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